Friday, September 21, 2018

Divine Restraint

September 21, 2018
Divine Restraint

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.
1 Corinthians 10:23

The Bible teaches us to practice self-restraint. The Apostle Paul even includes self-restraint as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Both James and Peter urge their congregations to practice self-restraint or self-control. Most often, when we think of self-control, we are focusing on all the things we are not supposed to do as Jesus’ disciples. That is easy to understand because the phrase ‘do not’ appears almost 175 times in just the first five books of the Bible.

While the Bible is most assuredly concerned that we exercise self-control over the sinful desires of the flesh, the Bible is also very interested in our responding to our higher calling by practicing divine restraint. Several times in the Gospels, Jesus used the phrase, “I must,” such as, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent” (Luke 4:43). The Apostle Paul also was driven by divine restraint when “he said, “I must visit Rome also” (Acts 19:21). In both these examples, Jesus and Paul were responding to the imperative God placed on their lives. They exercised self-control by not doing other things, not going other places, so that they could fully respond to God’s leading in their lives.

As the followers of Jesus, we too have an imperative from God. God wants to use our lives for the glory of His Kingdom. As disciples, we are called to exercise divine restraint in our lives so that we can offer all that we are, and all that we have, for God to use at His discretion. What does that look like; how do we do this?

Paul follows the passage quoted above (1 Corinthians 10:23) with this instruction: “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others” (1 Corinthians 10:24). This is very similar to what Paul wrote to the Philippians: “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4 NRSV). In both instances, Paul is encouraging us to exercise divine restraint in how we use all of our assets, so that we can use them in God-honoring ways, and not just for our own self-interest. 

My Takeaway: We are applying this principle in our household by changing some of our household spending practices – not because we have to pinch pennies, but because we get to. Some of the money we saved on household expenses by practicing divine restraint we are now investing in a new youth ministry that is beginning in our community.


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(Selah is a word that appears in the Book of Psalms that I often use as the Complimentary Closing in my correspondence. Its meaning, as I use the word, is to pause and think about these things.)

These meditations are written by Alex M. Knight as he seeks the life in Christ as his way of life.  The meditations are published on the BLOG, and they are also distributed on the Constant Contact email server. You may subscribe to this email service by sending an email to: The BLOG is also available on Amazon Kindle, by subscription.

Publications by Alex M. Knight:

·        Seeking the Life in Christ, Meditations on the New Testament and Psalms has been published and is now available at in paperback and Kindle.

·        The second edition of First Think – Then Pray is available on Amazon Kindle.

·        Meditations on The Story of My Life as told by Jesus Christ has been released as an e-book on Amazon Kindle.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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