Spotlight 11/2023: Practising self-restraint
Anger is a bad counsellor. All we need to do is look at the story of Cain and Abel. District Apostle Rainer Storck from Germany explains how self-restraint plays into our 2023 motto.
Serving and reigning with Christ also means that we should rule over ourselves. One aspect of this is self-restraint. I am going to mention a few points where lack of self-restraint has led to serious consequences or can lead to such.
- It is important that we always rule over our own thoughts. What kind of thoughts go through our heads? What do we carry in our hearts? These thoughts and motivations in turn give rise to actions. Let us not allow just any thought that pops into our head or occupies us to become permanently lodged Sometimes gloomy thoughts can also inhibit or demotivate us. The scribe Ben Sira says about this: “Give not over thy mind to heaviness, and afflict not thy-self in thine own counsel” (Ecclesiasticus 30: 21). The subsequent verses also speak to the point.
- James 3: 1–12 talks about the power of the tongue. It is very interesting to read what mischief the tongue, our words, can cause if we do not rule over it. A word is like an arrow that has been released. It can no longer be retrieved, but hits the other person and does not fail to have an effect. I have experienced it: as soon as I had said it I realised it was wrong. But it was too late. Often one can reconcile with the person who has been hurt and the misunderstanding can be cleared up, but here and there wounds and the hurt remain. Let us strive to control our language and choice of words.
- Cain could no longer control himself. He was so angry that his brother Abel’s sacrifice had been accepted and his not that he lured Abel into the field and killed him there. He completely disregarded God’s warning. “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it” (Genesis 4:7). Cain was not able to rule over sin because of his anger. Anger is not a good counsellor!
We can improve in these things by orienting ourselves to Jesus Christ and allowing Him to reign in us.