by Pastor Tim Burt
Remember when you were a teenager and you couldn’t wait to get out on your own so you could make your own decisions and have freedom from anyone telling you what to do? I sure do. I didn’t know the Lord back then and my life was all about one thing – making me happy. I remember the day I moved into my first apartment. My emotions were filled with thoughts of freedom from anyone telling me what I had to do coupled with this strange apprehension of what do I do now? I was on my own and my parents were the type to never interfere with my life and decisions. They let me figure things out. I remember this euphoric joy because I could finally do whatever I wanted. It didn’t take all that long to realize that this new found independence was way over rated!
As I said, back then, life was all about me. I simply wanted to follow my fleshly impulses. If I wanted to eat, I ate. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted. When I think back to what I used to eat, the memory is scary! I’d also stayed up as long as I wanted. I did want I wanted, kind of! As everyone learns in this phase of life, you still have responsibilities – especially ones you never previously thought about because dad and mom took care of them. You still had a job, you still had to pay bills, you still had obligations. You really weren’t all that free. As a matter of fact, you begin to realize all that your parents provided for you that provided more freedom than you realize.
If there was ever a destroyer of life, it’s following after fleshly impulses. Of course when you’re young, you’re going to make plenty of mistakes. But hopefully you learn and learn quickly that constantly caving to impulses will take you down a road to disaster. People that struggle with weight, anger issues, sexual addiction, shopping addiction, overspending and debt, or compulsion to anything, are dealing with caving in to fleshly impulses. They do what their flesh wants when it wants. The devil and the world support this lifestyle and preach it through advertising and every other communication medium. “If it feels good, do it now.” It’s beyond belief that a television show will show two office people haven a sexual urge, jump in an office closet, and have quick sex.” To be blatantly honest, this kind of carnality being taught to society is a sign of the last days – but that is not where I am going today.
In our desire for freedom, we often cast off restraint. As a Christian living in a carnal world where we strive to please God, restraint is a gift from God. God offers a freedom that is different from the freedom worldly people desire. The freedom that is from God, values restraint. Godly freedom desires the Lord to be its guiding force - NOT wanting to come out from under His guidance and restraint. When you walk in this kind of freedom, you crave for His wisdom in what to give your self to and hold yourself back from. Freedom comes from knowing what God declares is good or bad for you and then using the inner strength of restraint that comes from God’s grace. This kind of freedom will help you navigate and avoid a world filled with mine fields.
God teaches us to use restraint in every part of our life. Proverbs 17:27 says, “A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered.” Proverbs 25:28 says, “A person without restraint and self-control, is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls.” Proverbs 29:18 says, “People who won't accept God's guidance and cast off restraint become exposed to danger, but whoever obeys God's precepts is happy.”
Parents that are wise will teach their children the benefits of restraint and guide them early on in making good decisions practicing restraint. They will also learn it for themselves and model it for their children. Parents that have no restraint raise children that hate it also. Parents that practice restraint can’t use it like hammer on their children. They have to show and help children see the benefits for themselves. Renee and I practiced this continually with our kids growing up. Whenever they had their own money, they wanted to put it in vending machines. We’d show them the price they’d pay in the vending machines and then the cheaper price they could pay in the store for the same thing. They learned restraint. They had to wait patiently but then they had more to spend elsewhere.
We practiced this with them in all areas of life. When they became independent adults, they may have tested their newly found freedom, but they quickly realized that restraint had served them well and kept them from things that would hurt them.
God is not trying to curtail life’s liberty. He is trying to help you have the kind of freedom that blesses you and does not hurt anyone else in the process. Restraint is truly your friend and the power of God is within you to master it! It produces the Ultimate Freedom!
John 8:34-35 (The Message Bible) “Jesus said, "I tell you most solemnly that anyone who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead-end life and is, in fact, a slave. A slave is a transient, who can't come and go at will. The Son, though, has an established position, the run of the house. So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through.”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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