LESSON: Practice self-control to be a good example to others
Memory Verse: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
– 1 Timothy 4:12
Self-control refers to the exercise of restraint over one’s actions, emotions or desires. Just as a young child is taught how to ask for something politely and not grab, it is something that is learned through practice and determination. This is because as Christians, it usually refers to stopping ourselves from following our selfish and sinful desires. It is often “easier said than done,” because it involves controlling not only our outward actions, but more importantly, our inner thoughts and emotions. This is because as the Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Bible Story: Daniel’s Training in Babylon (Daniel 1:1-21)
Daniel and his three friends were among the young men taken captive by Babylon when they defeated and destroyed Jerusalem. They were then put into training so that they may the king, and they were assigned a daily amount of good and wine from the king’s table. Daniel was far from his homeland and his family, but he did not forget his faith and the teachings he learned as a child.
“But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself in this way.” – Daniel 1:8
Daniel showed self-control in three areas of his life: (1) in his THINKING; (2) in his SPEECH; and (3) in his CONDUCT or actions.
- Controlling our minds or our thinking. Whatever we say or do is a result of what we believe or what we have decided in our hearts. So this is the first area that we must conquer. It is important that we fill our minds with good things and rebuke thoughts and desires that are evil and not pleasing to the Lord. We have to figure out what is truly important in our lives so that we will know what our priorities are and be guided as to what we should or shouldn’t do, or what to do first and what we can afford to let go.
- Controlling our speech. Daniel decided in his heart what to do and so he asked permission to do it. Notice that showed respect and wisdom in how he asked for permission. The chief official was hesitant about Daniel’s request because he was afraid it might get him into trouble, but Daniel negotiated with him to test them for 10 days before making a final decision. In this manner of controlled speech, Daniel was able to convince the chief official to let them eat only vegetables and water and not eat the king’s food.
- Controlling our actions. What they thought and said they would do, that is what they actually did. Daniel and his friends did not allow themselves to be “defiled” or “polluted” even if they were surrounded by pagans and unbelievers. This is the Christian challenge – “to be in the world but not of the world.” It means to be a good example of Christian living even if everybody else around us is practicing worldly living. We are called to be different and to live “holy lives,’ – we live for Jesus.
As Christians, we are to be “good examples,” and show the world how God wants us to really live. Like Daniel and his friends, young people can and should do this as well. Being young is not an excuse to live wild lives and to try first everything that the world has to offer and wait until adulthood before changing for the better. God has chosen young men and women to show the world what it means to be a follower of Jesus “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
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