Devotion for February 3, 2024

“A person without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” (Proverbs 25:28)

A broken-down wall or an undefended house is not only exposed to the elements, but it is also open to looting, vandalism and theft. We do all in our power to avoid that with our physical property. But what about ourselves?

In another place, we are told: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). One translation puts it this way: “More than all else, keep watch over your heart, since here are the wellsprings of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

A person’s identity may be shaped to some degree by their environment, upbringing and genetic load. And yet, it is also even more powerfully shaped by the choices we make in the face of the circumstances we’re in.

In other words, the same set of circumstances may result in quite different outcomes, depending on how we respond. Bitterness, unforgiveness and bearing grudges lead only to more bitterness, unforgiveness and grudges. Mercy begets love. Grace begets forgiveness. Righteousness begets righteousness.

God has begotten righteousness in us by showing us mercy. He has brought forgiveness into our relationships by meeting us and our sins with his grace. He has stepped into the broken-down ruins our lives had become to rebuild them. God has healed our broken lives by being broken for us.

Paul tells us that the fruit of the Holy Spirit includes self-control (Galatians 5:22,23), but it is not alone. It is part of a constellation of blessings, such as love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness and faithfulness. These are given to us by the Spirit of Jesus as we hear his gospel.

So, self-control does not come by gritting our teeth and forcing it by willpower, but by hearing with faith God’s love for us and experiencing the fruit of His salvation in our lives. We guard our hearts by listening to his heart. And the more we know his love for us, the more our love for Him and others grows along the way. This growth in love is the wellspring of self-control. It’s a gospel gift of the Spirit to a needy world.

Prayer

Lord, I thank You for showing mercy in Your gift of Your Son. Let that grace and love You show us be reflected to those that are around us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Stay encouraged!

Pastor Mike

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