GLADIATORS, ALIENS, AND YOU.
You're about to appear on an episode of American Gladiators. The show's producer explains that you're going to get into a ring with two iron pumping, steroid gulping athletes named "Sheer" and "Dicer." Your task is to carry a ball the size of your head, dash by Slicer and Dicer, and drop the ball into a barrel. Oh, yeah, Slicer and Dicer will be swinging twenty pound mallets at you. And you have to do it six times. The producer asks, "Oh, by the way, do you want to wear any protective gear?" Duh!
Or let's say you're the new captain of the starship Enterprise. You command your navigator, VoCal Solo, to steer toward the planet Blendor. Suddenly the ship starts to pitch violently back and forth, tossing crew members around like croutons in a salad. Suddenly your first mate, Vanna, shouts, "We're under attack, Cap'n!" You look at the giant screen before you, and a bazillion enemy ships and missiles are speeding toward your craft. Over the deafening screams and explosions occurring all around you, Vanna cries, "Should we turn on the defensive force field, Cap'n?"
OK, then, say you're a Christian kid who wants to please God but who also wants to squeeze the greatest possible enjoyment and satisfaction out of life. You know God loves you, and you love him, too. But it's not always easy. Your parents expect so much. Your friends put pressure on you to do certain things. You even feel like giving up sometimes. In the midst of all that, the Bible says, "Be self-controlled."
Actually, those three cases aren't so different from each other. If you're under attack from a couple of American Gladiators, you need some protective gear. If you're under attack from alien ships and missiles, you need a defensive force field. And if you're under attack from the temptations and traps of the world, you need self control.
The Bible says, "A person without self control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls" (Proverbs 25:28). In other words, self control protects you, just like a tall stone wall encircling an ancient city or a safety belt that can hold you back at just the right time. It can protect you from saying the wrong thing. It can prevent you from doing something you'll regret later. Like all godly virtues, it can protect and provide for you. So don't leave home without it!
REFLECT: How is self control like each of the "defenses" in the above reading? Are there any areas of your life where you seem to have good self control? Are there any areas in which you need to show more self control?
PRAY: "God, I need the defense of your armor, especially when..."