I was getting ready to go to lunch with a dear friend whom I've known for years and who cuts, colors and styles my hair. So, a baseball hat and sweats weren't going to cut it. Because she takes a long time with me, making me feel new and fresh and perky with the best style possible, I went to great lengths to get myself and my hair ready. Even the straight iron came out to polish off the look.
It made me think though...what do I do to present myself to God? He has taken great pains to create me and I confess that I often don't offer my best to Him. Thankfully He is more concerned about what's on the inside than what's on the outside.
"The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7)
Well, what about my heart. Let's take a little spiritual inventory starting with the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Ok...love(good), joy(not too bad), peace(gaining), patience(not too shabby), kindness(I think I'm kind.), goodness(I brought my friend flowers.), faithfulness(ok), gentleness(good) and self-control (Bingo!!!)
I am, as my mother would euphemistically say, well-rounded. Basically that means that I can't have cookies and other sweet carbs in the house because I have little to no self-control. My name is Bev Duncan (Hi Bev) and I am a Stress Eater. But, I have every rationale...the past few years have been the most stressful of my life. I take medication that contributes to weight gain. I have had major knee surgery and have been unable to exercise like I was accustomed to. I could go on and on, but I still have to face the truth that I am God's temple and how am I treating my body?
God would not have me go on a guilt trip because condemnation is not in His character and guilt is not meant to drag us down, but rather to turn us around. Even Jesus was tempted. He is compassionate.
So where do I go from here?? First, I need to realize that when I am weak, God is strong. I need to call on Him for help. The fruits of the Spirit are just that - gifts that the Holy Spirit gives us when we call on Him. It's the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that produces Christian virtues in the believer's will. It is not of our own doing.
I literally got on my knees and prayed for the self-control that I so desperately needed. God hears our prayers and for six weeks He has enabled me to have the self-control to not put unnecessary calories in my mouth. I've lost some weight and feel better, but I have a long way to go. I realized that the food I was putting in my mouth was not life giving, but was in fact life draining. Do I fail at times...you betcha. I'm not perfect. But, God continues to draw my mind into alignment with what He says about me:
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17)
I still have a long way to go, but I am on my way. I am reminded that it is not in my own power that I will succeed. Pray for me won't you and if you have similar struggles, know that I am praying for you...meanwhile, pass the celery.
ps. If you struggle with self-control in some area of your life, don't hesitate to call on professional help. God put those resources there to help us. You are not alone.