1 Thessalonians 5:5-11
When I was a child growing up in a suburb of Detroit there was a terrible tradition on the night before Halloween. The night was dubbed, “Devil’s Night,” and this was a night when people would go out as soon as it was dark and vandalized property. In the suburbs, this meant that homes would get toilet-papered or egged, and cars would get written on with lipstick. In the city of Detroit, this meant that people would torch abandoned homes which would cost the city a lot of money in both police monitoring and putting out fires. The people who engaged in such activities didn’t think or care what their actions cost other people so they could have their fun at night. They would get extra sleep in the day so they could be up at night and have fun with their destruction. Spiritually, we face a similar situation. We are children of the day which means we do need to consider what our actions may cost to another person; we need to have self control before we act. In the day, we can see the results of our destructive behavior while at night it is too dark to see our destructive paths. Please look up 1 Thessalonians 5:5-11.
I find the phrase in verse 6, “alert and self controlled,” very interesting. I think sometimes to be self controlled we need to be alert to what is happening around us. We need to be looking at other factors that might not be immediately noticeable before we react to a situation. For example, when I worked as a school secretary, sometimes a parent would come into the office behaving rudely toward me. Initially, I would want to react; however, if I exercised self control I might hear a little more of their story and find out why that person was behaving that way. Perhaps they had a tough morning getting their child ready for school or maybe they had a meeting with a teacher that they were stressed about. Exercising the self control to dig a little deeper would then allow me demonstrate love and patience. In the same way, when we exercise self control, we can see how our behavior may hurt or offend those around us. Self control will keep us from doing something hurtful and will allow us to put on “love as a breastplate.”
Showing love sometimes requires a great amount of self control. Let us remind ourselves why exercising self control would show love by looking at 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. There is a whole list here of what love does and what love is that requires self control. First, look at what love isn’t: rude, self-seeking, easily angered, keep records of wrong, delight in evil. Now, look at what love is: rejoices with the truth, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. I don’t know about you, but when I look at those lists I see self control written all over them! Love belongs to the light and we belong to the light, so let us live like children of the light and use self control.
Are you using self control and staying alert so you can show love?