Sunday, October 28, 2012

Restraint.. The lost Virtue

In the past 20 years or so... which is basically my adult life. I have seen a shift in culture in so many ways.
And unfortunately it's not always so positive.

One of the American slogans is Freedom of Speech.
Which I am thankful for, but I have seen a troubling trend..

This whole freedom to be who we really are is one that has me thinking.
What Does it mean to be free?
If it feels good do it.
If it makes you happy well by all means go ahead.
If you feel okay with it then it's fine.

We have taken liberty to live as we please, speak as we feel, act as we like because we  have decided refraining would be pretending. As though the greatest virtue one could have is freedom. We speak it in the name of being "real". Or we act out on it because we reason if we thought it we may as well do it. Same/same.

 But my fear is that in the process we have not really progressed so much but only come back to the core of who we are in our sin nature. 
Our own self. 
And the self gratification of the flesh that we were all born with. 
Instead of fighting off the person that rises up within us and wants to speak or act in ways that are completely contrary to life in the Spirit,
Instead of putting it to death, we celebrate it.

16 So I say, live by the Spirit,(Z) and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.(AA) 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.(AB) They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.(AC)Galatians 5

Rude has become applauded.
We cheer when others put people in their place.
We exalt those who can slash someone with their tongue.
Or perhaps we justify our own actions by naming it "spewing Or Venting". This can be done to a person or about the person. Or maybe indirectly through social media.
We have taken private thoughts and actions that should be re-examined and perhaps confessed and instead unashamedly made them public with no intention of confession.
And I ask...
What ever happened to restraint?




 [ri-streynt]  Show IPA

a restraining  action or influence: freedom from restraint.
Sometimes, restraints. a means of or device for restraining, as a harness for the body.
the act of restraining holding back, controlling, or checking.
the state or fact of being restrained deprivation of liberty;confinement.
constraint or reserve in feelings, behavior, etc.

Once upon a time we recognized Restraint drawing back from, not participating in; a virtue that we saw as a courageous act. A person who had integrity refrained from speaking his mind on all matters all the time. With a regard for others. Walking away when we still had a couple things left to say.

I long to live in a culture where we once again understand that everything that pops in our head does not need to come out of our mouth. 
I desire to grow in this personally.
And even if it means that sometimes we restrain a feeling or judgement we have about another for the sake of the whole. 

Doesn't true freedom come when we live lives that are filled with the Spirit?
And doesn't the fruit of the Spirit include Self control?
Self Control = Restraint.

We, the kids and I, are ready to start on James 3... Taming the tongue. And I am praying that God takes this passage and burns it on my heart and mind and that my tongue (or sometimes my fingers) will always act accordingly.
The test always comes for me when I feel mistreated. 
Or Rejected.

In the long run the most freeing thing I can do to counteract and restrain the old man that rises up in me is to intentionally do exactly opposite of what I feel like doing. 
Putting to death that flesh.
Venting feels good for a little but in the long run it always makes me feel lousy. Which isn't freedom.
Death to my need to say what I'd like to say. Living for myself always feels good for the moment but is a very short sighted way to live. It hurts far too many to call it freedom.
Recognizing that the choices I make today however small they may feel to me will never only affect me but will always be further reaching then I can see.

So I ask.. What is true freedom?
I would present an old fashioned word 
Restraint. In all things.. Restraint.

19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality,(AF) impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.(AG) I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.(AH)

 But the fruit(AI) of the Spirit is love,(AJ) joy, peace,(AK) patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.(AL) Against such things there is no law.(AM) 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature(AN) with its passions and desires.(AO) 25 Since we live by the Spirit,(AP) let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited,(AQ) provoking and envying each other.
Galatians 5

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