Summary: #4 in the Seven Virtues - temperance, although I’ve used the more current term ’self-control".
Worshipping your "self’s"
Virtues #4 - Self Control
by James Galbraith
Bethel First Baptist Church - June 10, 2001
A society build up it’s language around what is important to it.
The Eskimos, I’ve been told, have many different words for snow.
They live with it constantly, they walk on it, build with it, hunt on it, and they need to be able to communicate what the snow is like, how deep it is, how fresh it is, and such.
So they have come up with many different ways to describe snow.
A society forms it’s language around what is important to it.
You may be asking why I mention this in a sermon about temperance, or to use a more "current" term, - self-control.
Well, when I looked in my dictionary to see if "self-control" means what I think it means, I found 247 different words that start with "self".
While some of them refer to mechanical or organic things, such as self-loading rifles or self-rising flour, the majority of these terms refer to something about one’s "self".
If you punishing yourself too often you are guilty of self-flagellation
and if you go to far in self -flagellation you can commit self-annihilation
If you draw attention away from yourself you are self-effacing
and if you think you are always right you are self-opinionated.
If you constantly make excuses for your behavior you are self-justifying,
if you see yourself in someone (or something), you have engaged in self-identification
and on it goes.
I think it is fair to say that we are a society thoroughly wrapped up in our "self’s", or should I say, self-centered.
Before I go too far on that, I must say that we need to somewhat self-aware, if we are to survive.
If we don’t pay attention to our body’s need for food or water,
we will eventually die of hunger or thirst.
If we do not pay attention to our need for shelter,
we will die of exposure to the elements.
And if we do not pay attention to our need for clothing, well, we get arrested!
Self-awareness is part of who we are, and when it begins to fail we suffer greatly.
However, most of us do not have a problem with self-awareness. We excel at it!
We’re so good at it, in fact, that we quickly move past it and on to self-centeredness, and then things start to go wrong.
Why is this wrong? It is wrong because when we begin to place our "self’ in the centre of our lives, everything else takes second place.
Now that doesn’t seem so bad at first, after all, who’s going to take care of our "self" except our "self".
But with our "self’s" in the centre, who then are we accountable to? What rules do we follow? Who is the most important influence in our lives?
If we answer all of these questions with our "self’s", then we walk the same road as some of the most evil people who ever walked this Earth.
The people who cause the most harm in this world are the people who have decided that they do not have to answer to anybody but themselves,
their own desires, their own appetites, their own prejudices, their own rules.
The contrast to self-centredness is self control - someone who has self-control recognizes that there is a right and wrong, that there is a standard he or she must live up to, and that we must exercise control over our desires and appetites if we are to abide by them.