But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
I have spent years studying scripture, attending bible studies, reading devotionals and have invested hundreds of hours in various 12-step and other recovery groups and yet somehow my emotions continue to betray me.
After many recent months of wrestling with this Ecclesiastes-like conundrum in my own life (nothing I do seems to make a difference in how I feel) I have come to a single conclusion.
The pursuit of knowledge alone will never positively affect one’s emotional health or change one’s life.
Much like reading about flying a plane. The imagination of being in the cockpit and soaring through the sky can produce a euphoric sensation as we can really feel like we are flying.
But soon enough reality kicks in and I realize I can’t fly. I could take lessons and learn how to fly… but that takes time, money and great effort. Too much work.
It would seem since coming to Christ I have in many ways simply been in love with the idea of being a disciple of Christ; that my imagination has reveled in how different my inner and outer world “could be” if I woke each morning truly transformed by the gospel.
But that knowledge requires a response
Proverbs 16:32 Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.
Proverbs 25:28 Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.
Acts 24:25 As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”
1 Corinthians 7:5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
Galatians 5:23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
1 Timothy 3:2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,
2 Timothy 3:3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,
Titus 1:8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.
Titus 2:2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
Titus 2:6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.
Titus 2:12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,
2 Peter 1:6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;
Satan tricks the fool into believing knowledge is wisdom however, true wisdom takes advantage of the new choices knowledge provides and it is the new behaviors that bear fruit.
It’s easy to visualize a child of abuse being in an emotional prison created by others.
It also shouldn’t be hard to sympathize with that child becoming an adult locked in that same emotional prison even if they are now the key holder created by their own poor choices to medicate through drugs, alcohol, sex, food, etc…
But as we learn that we are indeed set free by the blood of Christ and that God has given us a new name and free will the prison door truly swings wide open.
Why then do so many sincere Christians actively pursuing restoration and recovery continue to struggle with emotional strongholds of addictions, anxiety, depression, poverty and hopelessness?
Much like the serenity prayer laments:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Wisdom without the Courage To Change is merely mental masturbation
For many years I have been under the impression that the wisdom I was gaining in pursuit of both gospel truth and the neuroscience of addictions combined with my ability to lead other men toward greater levels of awareness in these areas should be having a greater impact on my inner well-being
Why then with a nearly immeasurable number of of ‘ah-ha’ moments of revelation and clarity do I seemingly still struggle at the soul level with the emotional bondage of lack of self worth and bouts of isolation and mild depression?
It comes down to a lack of self control.
Romans 7:19 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.
How much do we all struggle with living out “the courage to change the things I can”
- We have a toothache but don’t go to the dentist
- We don’t like our job but don’t persue a new one
- We have friends who are unhealthy but don’t change them
- We may be overweight but still eat cheeseburgers and fries
- We could be out of shape but never even take walks
- We may have an estranged relationship with a parent but don’t pursue amends
- We know we are judged by the level we judge others yet still gossip or road-rage
- We desire deeper relationships but still text more often than we call
- We may struggle financially but don’t maintain a budget
- We could feel lonely yet isolate often
- We know drugs, alcohol or porn are the enemy but we still go to them for comfort
- We are told we a great person who helps many but we don’t believe them
- We desire better relationships with our spouse or children but don’t pursue their hearts
- We love Jesus but don’t heed his commandments
- We constantly confess our need for more prayer but never make more time
Daniel 9:4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments
John 14:21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
Yes, the Good News of Christ Jesus is REALLY GOOD NEWS, but response to the gospel requires the courage to make new choices and behave differently.
Simply being aware of the option of living a new life is an exciting prospect but Jesus purchased our freedom that we may LIVE DIFFERENTLY.
Father God, you alone know the hearts of men. Search us Lord and leave no stone unturned. But please Father don’t just leave us with the knowledge and wisdom of our own sin-nature and shortcomings but infuse us with the courage and power to live out the very freedom You alone paid for through Your life, death and resurrection. Help us all to see that claiming freedom comes up far short of courageously and boldly living free. Let us not mistake knowledge as fruit but instead let our actions bear witness to the glory of God. It is in Your precious and holy name I pray Jesus…