For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control. – 2 Peter 1:5-6
Now we come to one of the most neglected of the virtues in Peter’s list: Self-Control.
Again, this is awfully surprising coming from Peter. He was definitely the “act first, ask questions later” kind of guy. He never really thought to look before he leapt right into something. His tongue was always quicker than his brain. I bet Peter was a lot of fun at the parties…
Not exactly the poster-boy for self-control.
But, like I said about knowledge, everything began to change for Peter after the resurrection. Once he received the Holy Spirit, he was a new man. I think that serves to confirm that self-control is also a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5).
Now look at the culture around us. Self-control is view more as vice than virtue. The latest motto of the millennials is “You only live once” (or YOLO!). That is basically an excuse to do whatever the heck you want. Surf on top of a car? YOLO! Chug a six pack of Monster Energy Drinks and hang out at Wal-Mart at 3am? YOLO! Kiss a homeless person? YOLO!
Adults look at this, dumbfounded, and can only think, “Kids will be kids.”
But I think it has more to do with a sense of exhibitionism and monkey-see, monkey-do. People want to have attention, instant stardom. Ten years ago if someone “went viral,” you took them to the doctor right away. Today, that’s all most teenagers want. They will do just about anything to reach one million views on YouTube.
Then there are all the “reality” shows on the market today. All inhibitions go out the window when cameras and producers enter the scene. Anything goes, and I mean anything. Politeness is boring. Self-control and civility do not bring in the ratings. The more arguments, fist fights, bleeps, and blurs the better.
Yet as Christians we should have nothing to do with trivial quarrels and spats (2 Timothy 2:23; Titus3:9). We should be able to keep a tight rein on our tongues (James 3). We should outdo each other in showing honor and respect (Romans 12:10). We should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19). And as much as it depends on us, we should live at peace with EVERYONE (Romans 12:18).
The lifestyle presented in Scripture is essentially antithetical to the lifestyle supported by the culture around us. At the end of the day, God has called us to a higher standard.
It’s true that you only live once (Hebrews 9:27). But let’s not use that as an excuse to live recklessly and foolishly. Let’s make the most of the life we’ve been given to bring joy and peace to those around us, to leave this world better than we found it, and to ultimately enjoy the rich rewards of a life in the kingdom of heaven.