Power, love and self-discipline – what more could anyone hope for? These are among the highest attributes to which we strive and those most often admired and respected In others. Those who have the power to rule nations, the love of romance novels and the self-discipline of saints are rare people indeed. We all want these qualities. We all strive to gain them. But to what extend and purpose to we succeed?
Too often we feel timid. We are easily frightened by financial troubles, health issues, and myriad situations that seem to arise every day. We are even a bit frightened about being late, not completing my work, or forgetting to do a particular chore. But this is what we might refer to as ‘ordinary timidness.’ We all feel it, to a greater or lesser extent and it is nothing to worry about. Some degree of timidness is actually helpful, such as smelling smoke, not walking into traffic or making sure a gun is not loaded. We do not leave stoves turned on or let strangers into our homes. We caution our children to be a bit timid when it is in their best interests to be so.
But just imagine the strength and pleasure that power can bring. Power can bestow upon us financial, material, economic, influential and social blessings. It can make us look good, feel good, and have the ability to control vast amounts of money, make tremendous business transactions, and even to rule empires. But is this the power that is given to us by God. Is this the power that comes through the Holy Spirit. It may, at least to some extent, be. God gives us the will, the health, the intelligence and the strength to become powerful. If our power is used for good, we may well be doing the will of God. If, on the other hand, we use our power for corruption, enslaving, degrading, monopolizing or destruction, it certainly is not the will of the Almighty.
God is good, loving and forgiving. His will is always the will of our Lord Jesus who taught us to love our neighbors A as ourselves. If our power is being used in ways that show our love for each other and for the betterment of humanity and also for the kingdom of God, it is the will of God working through us.
Love is the same thing. It can be a romantic love, the type written of in romance novels and seen in movies, or it can be an unconditional, everlasting love such as the love that Jesus had. It can even take the form of agape, the greatest Christian love, always seeking the highest calling of one another. Love is not simply Valentines and roses. It is reaching out to those who may not be especially loveable. It is being with those who are lonely and most in need of love. It is struggling through the rough spots in life together, never letting go and always picking ourselves up and continuing. This is the love of Christ and the love that we can strive to achieve in our relationships with other people every day, by the grace of God.
Self-discipline usually makes us think of something we want to change about ourselves. Oh, we admire the self-discipline of those who stop smoking, lose weight, exercise, or complete a difficult task. We encourage self-discipline in our children so that they will be successful, competitive and more academically inclined. And self-discipline is a very good quality, indeed. It is one which Jesus possessed to the fullest. Jesus did not lose his temper, satiate his appetite, or slow when he tired. He practiced self-discipline. And we, like our Savior, can do the same. We can pray for a little more self-discipline each day. When the going gets tough and we feel that we are failing or faltering, we can pray harder and more fervently for strength and guidance.
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