Devotions this week based on the Message: “BELIEVE: Week 24: SELF-CONTROL”
(NOTE: This sermon series and devotional series is based on a book by Randy Frazee entitled, “BELIEVE.”
You may choose to download or purchase the book as a supplement to your worship and devotional emails.)
John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are two extraordinary days for the Christian. For in these 24-36 hours we see amazing expressions of love amidst incredible hate. We see incredible self-control amidst many who were out of control.
Maundy comes from “mandata” or command. When we think of commands we think of things we SHOULD do OR ELSE. Commands usually carry consequences. To avoid consequences, we obey commands.
But there is something different about Maundy Thursday and the “new command” Jesus gives. It is not a new tablet of 10 commandments to replace those given to Moses. It is not a list of rules that would govern the Christian church. It is an expression of love the Jesus invites us to follow. It is an expression of love that will proclaim to the world that we are followers of Jesus.
In no way was this command a “do as I say, not as I do.” In fact, John begins the record of the last hours of Jesus’ life in this way, “It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” (John 13:1-2). Jesus was not going to stop his love for his disciples. To the very end of his life, he was simply going to be an expression of love.
From washing the disciples’ feet, to giving his body and blood in the Supper, to receiving the mockery and scorn, to giving up his life on the cross, no greater love was ever shown.
Why? Because he loved us.
Love was going to not just be the example, but the motivator for all to follow him. Jesus could have given more commands and demanded allegiance “or else.” But laws don’t change hearts. Grace changes hearts. Laws may get me to not do something. Grace leads me to not desire what is wrong.
So it is in self-control. Self-control expresses in love for others. When self-control is out of control it expresses in selfishness, anger, indulgence and more. Judas gave into greed. The chief priest gave into their hatred. Peter gave into his fear. WE cannot control ourselves. We need more. So Jesus gave us his love, instilled by his Spirit.
Self-control is expressing love to others. When, by the Spirit’s power we say no to sin, it is a witness to our connection to Christ.
When we fail, we have a perfect Savior to return to, confess our lack of self-control, receive his forgiveness and draw on his strength to move forward.
Just like Paul wrote to Timothy – grace, God’s love to us in Christ, is what teaches and guides us to a life of self-control.
Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Apply: As you reflect on Jesus’ love for you, how does his grace motivate you to rely on his love to say, “No” to sin?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are amazing in all you have done for us. Your love is full. Your grace is real. Your forgiveness is complete. Transform my heart and life so that your command to love is simply and always the focus of my life. AMEN.