Sermon Illustrations - Tag: self-control
Posted by Douglas on Apr 01, 2006

When my nephew Daniel was much younger (he just turned fifteen this year!), he used to love pepperoni. And he didn't just love it on pizza. Oh no. If he had the chance, he'd chow down on slices of pepperoni straight out of the package. In fact, he used to get up early in the morning, before anyone else was awake, find the package of pepperoni, and just eat and eat and eat.

Until one time, he ate so much he made himself sick. You can probably guess the end result of that; Daniel doesn't eat pepperoni any more. At his fifteenth birthday party we had pizza, and there was a choice between pepperoni pizza and plain cheese pizza.

Daniel went for plain cheese. "Don't you like pepperoni?" I asked.

"No!" was his emphatic answer.

That very brief discussion reminded me of a verse in the book of Proverbs:

25:16If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.Proverbs 25:16 (ESV)

Of course, being a proverb, that instruction isn't really about honey. It's about self-control, and knowing when "enough is enough." It's about recognizing when you've had enough of something, and being able to stop.

And it's not just about food. It's about any activity that we engage in. Reading books, watching TV, playing video games, talking on the telephone, exercising, working, etc. These things are not bad in themselves -- in fact, some of them are quite good -- but they become bad when we do not have the wisdom and restraint to say, "That's enough now."

The very next verse in Proverbs states:

25:17Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor's house, lest he have his fill of you and hate you.Proverbs 25:17 (ESV)

Does that mean visiting your neighbor is a bad thing? No! A visit to your neighbor is a good thing! But a wise person will know when they have outstayed their welcome, and leave before that happens.

Do you know when enough is enough? Do you have the self-control needed to say that's enough for now?

Posted by Douglas on Feb 14, 2006

This afternoon I was waiting at the crosswalk to cross the street by my house. A car coming from the left saw me, and pulled to an abrupt stop to let me cross.

There was no traffic coming from the opposite direction, so I should have been able to cross. But I noticed that another car, also coming from the left, was traveling rather quickly in a 25 mph zone, and didn't seem to have noticed that the first car had stopped.

Did I cross? No. I waited for the second car to come to a screeching halt, because I knew that if he hit the first car, the first car might jolt forward...and that would have been rather inconvenient for the person walking across the crosswalk...namely, me!

That was only sensible. I looked at the circumstances around me, considered the effects that others would have on me, and the potential consequences of my own actions, and then based on these considerations, chose a course of action. It was only sensible.

I find it interesting that in such a short book as Titus (only three chapters) Paul gives the instruction to be sensible five times! Depending on your translation, the word may appear as either "self-controlled" or "soberly" - the idea is to live your life with serious consideration, weighing consequences before acting. In other sensible!

Here's what Paul says in some of those verses:

2:11For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,12training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,Titus 2:11-12 (ESV)

It seems like such a simple thing, but how important it is for the believer. We carefully consider the circumstances around us. We consider the ways that others will impact us, and the ways that we may impact them. And then, using good sense and restraint, we choose a course of action which will have the best possible outcome not just for us but for others as well.

Unfortunately, we often we dive headfirst into a course of action without stopping to think whether the thing we are planning to do or say is reasonable, productive, and sensible.

Other translations use words like self-controlled, discreet, and sober-minded, but the idea is the same: live in a way that is carefully considered and reasonable.

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