by Pastor Tim Burt
I recently met with a great guy—a young man and son of a friend of mine. He had come to a men’s event I was speaking at and asked me after if he could meet with me to talk about changes he was feeling led to make in his life. He wanted to make sure he was on the right track with God. Later that week we met and as we talked, he shared how his thinking and lifestyle had changed and the changes he was trying to make in his life.
He was raised in a good Christian home that when he was younger, he perceived as strict. As he became a young adult, like so many others, he wanted to decide for himself what he believed and what was right for him. He began experimenting with what the world had to offer—primarily in the fun department. He had wanted to cut loose from his parent’s leash and live his own life. I asked him how that worked out for him. His short response was, Not so good. It led him to pause, reflect and shift! We laughed about the thought all teenagers think at some point… “I can’t wait till I’m an adult so I can do what I want.”
In the past nine months he had rededicated his life to the Lord and his life was taking a slow steady turn for the good. He had come to realize that his friends who didn’t care about the things of God, were the greatest drag on his life. Consequently, he was making changes in that area. He had re-engaged with church and was making some great new friendships. He was excited about making good choices and happy about the direction his life was headed. I was truly excited for him and I’m sure his parents were rejoicing!
I spend time helping him realize that it takes a level of maturity and insight from God to realize that the desire to do everything that appeals to your flesh is something that never goes away and will usually lead you astray. It will always be there and it’s exactly why learning to embrace restraint is sign of maturity and a vital and necessary part of maturity and everyday life.
The Bible calls sin bondage and slavery but calls the life in Christ freedom. It’s in that freedom, we gladly become slaves to Christ. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NLT reveals, “…Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”
To live under the guidance and oppression of the devil is bondage. He’ll work to direct your choices to every bad and perverted thing, ultimately leading you on the path to Hell. To be under the guidance of your loving Heavenly Father is freedom from what will hurt you, and the path to all of life’s blessing! Over time and in Christ, you come to learn and appreciate the truth of 1 Corinthians 7:22 NLT. “And remember, if you were a slave (to sin) when the Lord called you, the Lord has now set you free from the awful power of sin. And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave of Christ.”
As “slaves of Christ,” we are completely free to make all the right decisions on our own. The love of Jesus frees us to make good and right decisions motivated not by threats or consequences, but by God’s love and goodness, by His promises of blessing, and by our new purpose-filled life that will be the love of God and blessing you bring to others! 1 Corinthians 4:20 from the Message Bible puts it this way: “God’s Way is not a matter of mere talk; it’s an empowered life.”
As this young man and I talked, he had a new appreciation for restraint. He loved to body build and understood that resistance was a part of what made him physically strong. He walked out of the meeting excited to embrace restraint, and the correction of the Holy Spirit, and ready to yield to what he knew was good and true. Fighting God robs the good and the blessing He wants for us. Embracing His ways empowers righteous living that have the consequence of greater and greater blessing! We are not children. We should cast off childish thinking and grow up! Not because someone is making us, but because the freedom of God is in making the right choices that make life rich in blessing! How about you? Are you mature? Can you embrace restraint? Can you make better choices and be patient to see how they bless your life? Ask God to help you!
Proverbs 15:32 (NLT) “If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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