Summary: Why is self-control important?

The story is told about the man who prided himself on being exceedingly punctual. He followed a very precise routine every morning. His alarm went off at 6:30 AM. He rose briskly, shaved, showered, ate his breakfast, brushed his teeth, picked up his briefcase, got into his car, rode the ferry across to the downtown business area, got off the ferry, walked smartly to his building, marched to the elevator, rode to the seventeenth floor, hung up his coat, opened his briefcase, spread his papers out on his desk, and sat down in his chair at precisely 8:00 AM. Not 8:01 AM, not even 7:59. Always at 8:00 AM.

He followed this same routine without variation for eight years, until one morning his alarm did not go off, and he overslept fifteen minutes. When he did awake, he was panic-striken. He rushed through the shower, nicked himself when he shaved, gulped down his breakfast, only half-way brushed his teeth, grabbed up his briefcase, jumped into his car, sped to the ferry landing, jumped out of his car, and looked for the ferry.

There it was, out in the water a few feet from the dock. He said to himself, "I think that I can make it," and he ran down the dock towards the ferry at full speed. Reaching the edge of the pier he made an enormous leap out over the water and miraculously landed with a loud thud on the deck of the ferry. The captain rushed down to make sure he was alright.

The captain said, "Man, that was a tremendous leap, but if you would have just waited another minute, we would have reached the dock, and you could have walked on."

We are now entering the holiday season with the challenge of gift selection and buying that requires us to travel to stores whose parking lots, and the drive to get to there, try our patience. I recently came across a saying that I think would make a great bumper sticker for us to place on our cars. - "Don’t give up. It took Noah six months to find a parking place."

Ah, patience! We find it in short supply these days. We seek it in the grocery store line, at the ATM, when we hook-up to the Internet, when we are late for class or school or work, when we are trying to get to church on time, when have to go to the bathroon, and I mean really go, and there is a long line.

We do a better job of practicing impatience that patience. We have those smartaleck signs in our car windows that indicate our great impatience with drivers of other vehicles and what we believe their chief character defects to be.

We scream at our computers when they take so long to start-up or suddenly slow down. We yell at our children to slow down when they are going bonkers and yell at them to speed up when they are going at a snail’s pace.

We are in such a hurry these days. Why is patience in such short supply?

We have been looking at ways the past five weeks that Satan uses to try and trip us up. We have seen how pride, jealousy, disappointment and or resentment, and complacency can cause us problems and make it difficult to have a right relationship with God.

Today we are going to study a passage in the life of someone whose tragic story holds for us a lesson about impatience and its effects on our relationship with God, and with others, as well. It’s the story of King Saul and the episode that we are examining is found in the 13 chapter of I Samuel and we will begin with verse 5 and read through verse 14.


Now according to the text of my Bible, it says in verse 1 that Saul reigned as King of Israel for 42 years. I am not clear as to when the event that we have just read took place, but most likely it was early in his career and I am struck by the fact that this moment of impatience had both immediate and long term consequences on his life, his authority, and his relationships for as we read in verses 13 and 14 Samuel declares that instead of his reign being the start of a great lineage of Israelite kings, the honor would go to someone else because God was wanted someone after His (God’s) own heart. Why was it hard for Saul to wait on Samuel?

Maybe this paraphrased thought from Howard Whitman can give us an answer: Life is compsosed of waiting periods. The child must wait until he is old enough to have a bicycle, the young woman until she is old enough to drive a car, the medical student must for her diploma, the husband for his promotion, the young couple for savings to buy a new home. The art of waiting is not learned at once.

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