Monday, April 11, 2011

Don’t Bite Your Friends


How you treat others can determine how others treat God.

Galatians 5:22-23 But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us; the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (NLT)

How many of us enjoy a good talk about someone else? Don’t raise your hands as we don’t have enough room in the altar to handle that many people. Just kidding. Today, with the time we have, I want to talk to you about a couple of men. One of them is in the Bible. His name was David. In fact, I think God wants us to take a look at him during three times of his life so we can draw some wisdom on how to be a little more like Christ by learning how to have self-control. Let’s start by looking at what self-control is and how it works. It is the fruit that it takes to have all of these fruits constantly growing in our lives. In fact, every single one of these fruits will never grow to its potential without it. I’m not saying someone can’t be kind if they don’t have self control. I’m saying that they won’t be consistently kind, faithful, and gentle. That is probably why self control is the last fruit on the list, because it is the first one to remember.

Self control is the ability to control someone's feelings, thoughts, words and actions in order to efficiently manage one's future.

Proverbs 16:32 He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. (NKJV)

But it is a whole lot easier to define than it is to develop. Let’s look at three different times in David’s life real quick. Turn to the book of 1 Samuel 18 verse 10

David has killed Goliath, become best friends with Jonathan, and set over the men of war by Saul. After David was returning from a war with the Philistines, people began to sing a song about him saying Saul had killed his thousands, but David his ten thousands. This upset the king and this is where we will pick up in verse 10.

10 And it happened on the next day that the distressing spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied inside the house. So David played music with his hand, as at other times; but there was a spear in Saul’s hand. 11 And Saul cast the spear, for he said, “I will pin David to the wall!” But David escaped his presence twice. 12 Now Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, but had departed from Saul. 13 Therefore Saul removed him from his presence, and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people. 14 And David behaved wisely in all his ways, and the LORD was with him. 15 Therefore, when Saul saw that he behaved very wisely, he was afraid of him.

Let’s skip over a few chapters to 24. David has, since chapter 18, run from Saul, acted like a crazy person in Gath, made a home with 400 criminals in Adullam, and saved a city. We pick up with him while Saul has been looking for him and had almost been killed by David in a cave at night. David cut a piece of Saul’s robe off and felt bad about it. Verse 8

1 Samuel 24:8 David also arose afterward, went out of the cave, and called out to Saul, saying, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David stooped with his face to the earth, and bowed down. 9 And David said to Saul: “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Indeed David seeks your harm’? 10 Look, this day your eyes have seen that the LORD delivered you today into my hand in the cave, and someone urged me to kill you. But my eye spared you, and I said, ‘I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD’s anointed.’

Let’s quickly look at one more place. During this time, David spares Saul’s life a second time, and tries to ally with the Philistines. Saul consults a medium, the Philistines reject David, David has the women and children of him and his men taken from him by the Amalekites, and his men want to stone him. He rescues everyone while Saul and Jonathan die on the battlefield against the Philistines. When David hears that Saul and Jonathan have died, he mourns deeply for them. He weeps for Saul, a man who tried to murder him in the palace, and get the enemy to kill him in battle and execute him in a cave.

2 Samuel 1:17 17 Then David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son, 18 and he told them to teach the children of Judah the Song of the Bow;

He shows self-control even after it was over. He even writes a song about the man who tried to kill him. How can he have done this? How can we do this in our lives? In the time we have left let me share these principles with you.

In the 1960s, Walter Mischel tested four year old children for self control in "The Marshmallow Test": the children were each given a marshmallow and told that they can eat it anytime they want, but if they waited 15 minutes, they would receive another marshmallow. Follow up studies showed that the results correlated well with these children's success levels later in life.
This study forced kids to find a way to make the situation work for them. They want the second marshmallow, but how can they get it?

At the time, psychologists assumed that children’s ability to wait depended on how badly they wanted the marshmallow. But it soon became obvious that every child craved the extra treat. What, then, determined self-control? Mischel’s conclusion, based on hundreds of hours of observation, was that the crucial skill was the “strategic allocation of attention.” Instead of getting obsessed with the marshmallow—the “hot stimulus”—the patient children distracted themselves by covering their eyes, pretending to play hide-and-seek underneath the desk, or singing songs from “Sesame Street.” Their desire wasn’t defeated—it was merely forgotten. “If you’re thinking about the marshmallow and how delicious it is, then you’re going to eat it,” Mischel says. “The key is to avoid thinking about it in the first place.”

When he and his colleagues taught children a simple set of mental tricks—such as pretending that the candy is only a picture, surrounded by an imaginary frame—he dramatically improved their self-control. The kids who hadn’t been able to wait sixty seconds could now wait fifteen minutes. “All I’ve done is given them some tips from their mental user manual,” Mischel says. “Once you realize that will power is just a matter of learning how to control your attention and thoughts, you can really begin to increase it.”

Isn’t that interesting? How many of us would have eaten the marshmallow when we were kids? How many of us would still eat the marshmallow today?

What does having self-control do? It will help you control:

Desires – What we want

Emotions – The way we feel
Actions – The way we act

What’s interesting about four-year-olds in that study was that they’re just figuring out the rules of thinking and learning self control. The kids who didn’t have self-control would often have the rules backwards. They would think that the best way to resist the marshmallow is to stare right at it, to
keep a close eye on the goal. But that’s a terrible idea.

How many of us do this. We focus on the problem, hoping to have peace or kindness, all the while failing in self control with our thoughts, feelings and actions.

We need to focus on Christ, the Author and the finisher of our faith. We can turn our attentions to God, and in doing so, have the victory of self control. I promise you this will work, no matter the situations of life.

God knows what you are going through, and if you listen to Him, you will know what you are going to!

Jesus exemplified this principle in loving his enemies. When we are filled with rage or hatred we might control ourselves by 'doing something else' or more specifically something that is contrary to our response. David’s response was opposite of what the world would do, but why? Because he wasn’t focused on what he wanted or was even rightfully his, he was focused on what God wanted and what would please Him.

We all know how to fail, but not everyone knows how to succeed. There is a process of failing, learning and repeating. 2 Timothy talks about fighting the good fight, keeping the faith and finishing the race. He told us not to get off course.

Beaumont hosted an event last year called “The Gusher”, a marathon that was a qualifier for the Boston marathon. People came from all over the world. During the race, the lead group got off course and ran the entire race for nothing.

When we are not able to control our thoughts, feelings and actions, we will get off the course God has for us. The Bible says we have to see evil at a distance and hide ourselves, bring our bodies into submission, don’t go down the road that the bad things live on, deny ourselves, pick up our crosses and follow Christ.

Just like those kids in the study group, God has given us one life and told us to use it for Him and if we will, He will reward us more than we could be in this life. Jesus says, those who lose their life for me will gain it. It is going to take self control to do that.

You may have been wondering why the title of the message was “Don’t bite your friends?" Well, I’d like to close with this story. It’s the story about the other man I told you we’d look at at the beginning. Kaeden, my son, was really into Yo-Gabba- Gabba last year. There was a show on how to treat your friends and one of the songs was about not biting your friends. He ran around the house for weeks singing it over and over “don’t, don’t, don’t bite your friends." Over and over he sang it, watched it, and enjoyed it. Then the unthinkable happened, he got bit by one of his friends. This was one of the most traumatic things that had ever happened to him in his long two years. For weeks he came to us and talked to us about the experience over and over again, saying “my friend bite me, my friend bite me?” in a confused kind of way. About a month later, I was sitting in my easy chair watching some TV when I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Kaeden was to my left looking at his forearm, the place where he had gotten bit. I muted the TV and listened as he looked at the place on his arm where there used to be bite marks and said to himself “he bite me” over and over. Then something amazing happened, he quietly and slowly began to say something different, “don’t, don’t, don’t bite your friends.” This broke my heart as I realized that he was encouraging himself to not bite. He stopped focusing on what others had done to him and started focusing on his proper response. I hugged him and learned the lesson I’m sharing today. How to have self-control. It’s easy, put the word of God in you. Repeat it over and over. Pray and find someone to be accountable to.

To have self control we are going to have to stay in:



As one cooperates with God in the doing of His Will, self-control will be a natural by-product (i.e., evidence that one is walking in the Spirit). We cannot overestimate the importance of developing "self-control" in our lives...

a. Without it, we cannot conquer the temptations of life
b. Without it, we cannot overcome the works of the flesh
c. Without it, we cannot develop into true Christians

Galatians 5:24 and those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (NKJV)

As I close today, remember this, “don’t, don’t, don’t bite your friends." Think on it, tell yourself and then apply it to the situations in your life.