Thursday, July 2, 2020

Power & Self-Control - Num 20

I had a 7th grade math teacher that made the connection for me. Math was math back then and, at my middle school, “applied math” was simply the name of a remedial class offered for those that weren’t testing well with the conventional class structure. Simply practicing the countless computations being worked out on the board in from of the class was not enough. I needed to know how to use what I was learning. I find I’m like that with most things. Buying a camera that’s a bit more than a simple point & click doesn’t make me more than amateur photographer. I have to dig into the 500 year relationship between aperture and shutter speed if I want to be looking at pictures better than the ones on my old Nokia flip phone with it’s impressive 2 megapixel camera. So it is with power. Any power. From leadership and the power of influence to the power of the human body found in mastering the martial arts, simply acquiring power is not enough. It is essential, whether one receives power by way of title or strenuous work, that the ability to use power properly is developed to match the sum of the power that has been given. This is where this talk about power begins to sound a bit like a Marvel super hero movie. When you possess significant power of any type, a seemingly insignificant slip-up or mis-use of that power will find you on your knees begging, “teach me how to control this power of mine.” And rightfully so because most powers, unbridled, will control you instead. Like Spiderman turned Venom, you’ll find the power you once possessed now possesses you or that you become so obsessed with being powerful that the level to which you abuse your power reaches new heights moment by moment.

Before you renounce your desire for power of any type, take comfort that there is a power above all powers. His name is Jesus. And He’s faithful to give us what we need to fulfill His purposes for the powers He provides. The Bible tells us clearly what it takes and likewise God gives it freely. In Acts 1:8 Jesus advised His disciples that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes. Galatians 5:23 informs us also that one of the fruits of the Spirit is self control. And it is this relationship between power and self-control that is either exemplified or disregarded in every story, Biblical or historic, in which power is either used for good or abused to man’s detriment. Moses himself had the power to summon gushing water from dry rocks in the desert. He abused this power with a show of anger when He struck the rock God had told him to speak to. Though water gushed, it was this abuse of power that prevented Moses from entering the promise Land. You see, it’s not the power that we need to learn to control. It’s us. If a leader practices self-control, their power of influence will be maximized in those they lead. If a black belt martial artist practices self control, he will defeat his opponent with strategically precise blows. We’ve all watched as a powerful kid in the school yard lost all self control in a tussle, and received an embarrassing beating in front of his peers or as an influential leader, failed to control themselves personally, humiliated their organization and brought corporate demise. Self-control is a subtle power at the helm of a great ship, capable of steering the whole vessel. This is “Applied Self Control 101”. Welcome to class. We’ve all been taught that we should have self-control but, without specific application, teachings on the subject can feel more like someone telling you to turn down a really great song. But apply self-control to any sort power, big or small, and you’ve got the secret sauce. So lets pray and work to this end: that this vital fruit of the Spirit, self-control, would be developed in us. An And that this discipline would unlock the powers availed to us through the Holy Spirit, influence, and otherwise.

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