|Sunset on a Lake Michigan beach|
Robert Bly wrote: “The making of a man is making your body do what it doesn't want to do.” (Bly, Iron John: A Book About Men)
The mature person flourishes in life as they are able to wield the powerful word "No." The Jesus-idea is that, as we connect to him as a branch connects to a vine, we bear "fruit," part of which is awe-inspiring "self control." (Galatians 5:23) People drop their jaws and stare in wonder as people say No to mere self-gratification.
A Spirit-led, self controlled person is a free person. They have grown in their humanity to say "No" to eating the wrong things, to spending money they don't have to buy things they don't need, and to engaging in sexual behavior as the objectification of other persons.
"No" is the ultimate boundary word. I doubt that the capacity to wield this word will come from hearing slogans like "Just say 'No'." The authentic, boundary-setting 'No" must become one's heart, one's inner being. This happens as Christ is formed in us.
Think, e.g., of Jesus after he fed the 5,000. The people rushed after him to make him an earthly king. To this Jesus exercised his innate self control and refused. His 'No' was not only for him, but for the sake of others, indeed, for the sake of the whole world. This is a narrow road, said Jesus, and few take it. It is the road to freedom. M. Scott Peck described The Road Less Traveled as "gratification delay." "No" is, perhaps, the ultimate other-centered word.
Let the "No" of Christ be formed in you and go free.