Summary: A sermon on how we have become out of control in America and what it takes to get us - Christians - back on track.

August 8, 2004 Galatians 5:23

I have recently been reading a book by Tim Russert called “Big Russ and Me.” It’s a very interesting insight into middle America about forty years ago or so. With great admiration he talks about the great work ethic of his father, who worked two to three jobs and also served in World War II. When Tim went to college, he was able to work the same job his father had as a garbage collector. It was then that he realized what a difficult job it was to hoist these huge garbage cans up over his head and throw them into a truck - often with the danger of rats which were living in the garbage cans as well. Tim marveled that his father did this day in and day out. Often times he would come home for about an hour, eat, sleep and then go to his second job. Yet Tim never heard his father complain about it. I couldn’t help but also be more impressed with the work ethic of his mother, who managed to spend life basically at home alone raising their children. Tim then also mentioned that as a kid he and his siblings automatically did their homework without being told to do it. They took pride in their grades. They looked out for each other. It was interesting for me to see what a different generation it was. What really impressed me was that they knew how to work and work hard.

Today’s topic - the final fruit of the Spirit - is called self-control. With a simple device called a “v-chip” we can control what kind of television our children watch. With Caller I.D. we can control who we talk to on the phone. Men have managed to control tigers and elephants. But controlling the self - that is no easy task. It takes work - hard work - to try and control your self. Whether it’s hard or not, Paul says today that -

The Fruit of the Spirit is Self Control

Would any of you question the fact that we live in a society that has lost almost every aspect of self-control? You can look at almost every facet of life and see how we no longer understand what it means to have control of practically anything when it comes to our selves.

• Look at our schools. One teacher used to be able to handle fifty children in a classroom - this is a fact. I’ve seen pictures of old gradeschools - without ONE assistant. The kids would sit on hard wooden desks and LISTEN to their teacher lecture. There were no visual aids. Now one teacher has a very hard time controlling fifteen to twenty children without the assistance of teachers’ aids and what not. We’re losing control of our children.

• Look at our crime rate. It used to be that you could leave your house unlocked, your keys in your car, and your children could walk to school. This is a thing of the past. Our society has become so out of control with the crime rate that houses and cars are regularly broken into.

• Look at our justice system. It is out of control. Lawyers are getting rich on ridiculous lawsuits - blaming doctors and restaurants and companies for what are often simple mistakes or even acts of nature.

• Look at our sexual sins. A greater majority of children are born out of wedlock than are born within marriage. AIDS and other sexual diseases are still running rampant even after all of the drugs that are being administered.

• Look at our bodies. Americans are so out of control with what they eat and drink that we have an overweight “epidemic” in our country. Alcoholism is running rampant. More and more people are becoming addicted to methamphetamines.

I could go on. But the simple and plain fact is that we don’t know how to control ourselves. This isn’t the governments fault. It isn’t because we’re born that way. It’s because we aren’t working at controlling our selves - and it’s effecting our country. Things are like a runaway train getting out of control.

Now, there’s an argument out there that goes like this - “yes, the train is running out of control. It would be nice if it were under control - if people would use the brakes - but they’re not. So we realize some damage is going to be done - but if people are going to drive without brakes - let’s just steer the train down the path that can do as little damage as possible.” That’s the way our society is dealing with this lack of self control. If you can’t learn how to keep your clothes on and not have sex with just your spouse, then wear some protection at least. If you can’t stop from doing drugs, let’s at least make them legal so it will be “safer” and people can use “clean needles.” If you can’t stop yourself from eating a Big Mac - then let’s at least make McDonald’s pay for our health problems. If you can’t control your spending, then let’s make the credit card companies and banks pay for it through bankruptcy. The attitude is that since we can’t control ourselves - lets just make the consequences a little less harsh. It’s this same attitude that’s going on in the Christian Church even. If we can’t get parents to keep their kids still through a service, let’s just have the kids sit downstairs with a separate service for them. If the people aren’t disciplined enough to get up on time for worship on a Sunday morning, let’s just have worship on another night too.

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