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

Genesis 39:7-20

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.

Our passage today is about a man who shows us self-control in action

Joseph’s Self Control

Joseph was a man who knew where the line between self-awareness and self-centeredness was, and he live a life that shows that no matter what position he was in at the time, he always made sure that a - he was not the centre of his own universe and b- he was able to be self-controlled

Joesph has been sold into slavery by his own brothers, and the slave traders that purchased him for 20 pieces of silver have brought him to Egypt, where he was purchased by Potiphar - the captain of the Royal Guard.

Joesph stays faithful to God throughout this ordeal, and it soon become evident that God is faithful to him. The verses leading up to our passage tells us that "the Lord was with him and the Lord gave him success" - so much success that Potiphar puts Joesph in charge of everything concerning his household.

This entails much more than being the head servant. Joesph manages Potiphar’s investments, he runs the farming operations, he does lead the servants - the only thing Potiphar had to do himself was feed himself!

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