During the whirlwind of holiday festivities between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, few of us are focusing much on the idea of self-control. In fact, for many of us, this is the time of year we entirely reject it, encouraging excess and indulgence.
“Hey, it’s the holiday season!” we proclaim, justifying another slice of pie or a few more cookies. (That’s not just me, right?)
We may reluctantly invite self-control to join us again in 2014, but for now, we don’t want him nagging us during this happy season of parties, food and gifts.
But a lack of self-control can hinder a joyful celebration of Christmas.
When we have a good handle on our thinking, our impulses and our words and actions, we typically stay in in a healthy place of peace and contentment.
However, when we throw self-control out the window, if even for a season, we often become lost in a frenzied pattern of consuming. We find ourselves fixated on consuming more and more food, money, presents and possessions.
By not having restraint over our innate self-satisfying desires, we lose sight of what’s really of value, and we set ourselves up for a long pattern of dissatisfaction and even destruction.
Titus 2:12-14 tells us:
[God's grace] teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness, and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” (NIV)
In the villages and communities where Food for the Hungry (FH) works, the idea of excess and constant consumption seems rather foreign.
These people are focused merely on meeting the basic needs of their family. They may dream of possessions they’d like to own, but likely aren’t scrambling to get the most extravagant and impressive items they can find.
Quite often, our friends in these communities are simply thrilled to have what they need to survive, and to maybe work toward a healthier and more stable life.
Check out our 12 Days of Christmas eBook, and read about Mariquit in the Philippines, whose Christmas wish is only for a friend to return to school. She has great hopes and dreams for her future. But she is happy to go to school and to help her mother with household chores. She is grateful for the blessings she has, and is not allowing greed to consume her.
This Christmas season, I encourage all of us (myself included) to not allow selfish, materialistic thoughts to direct our attitude and behavior. Let us practice the discipline of self-control by choosing to focus on gratitude, contentment and generosity instead.