Monday, June 06, 2011

The Logic of Self-Control

Whoever invented the Oreo cookie and a glass of ice cold milk should be taken to the woodshed. It is logically impossible to eat just one of them. The statement "I ate one Oreo cookie" is a lie. Just one taste of this deadly, evil union and fat grows at the rate of one pound/cookie. Self-control goes out the window. Therein lies one of my problems.

Two and a half years ago I had blood pressure that was too high. My doctor (perhaps the best general practitioner I have ever had) showed me the DASH diet. I went on it, lost 25 pounds, and have kept it off. My blood pressure came down and has stayed down. There have been many times where I have said "No" to the lure of Oreo Cookie #1. "No" is the gift-word of self-control.

I'm doing this for Linda. I want to live for her as long as possible. I know this is not, in many ways, in my control. But in some things I can be self-controlled. In some things I am self-controlled. But I wonder if "self-control" is an oxymoron? Here is my current Jesus-understanding.

Galatians 5:22-23 says: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." Using these words, here is the logic of self-control.

1. We struggle to control our own addictive selves. On our own, we're powerless before our addictions. So "self-control" functions like a contradiction, an oxymoron, if it means we can control ourselves. Food addicts take note: if it were only that simple! Thestatement "I can control my overeating" is, minimally, exaggeration and over-confidence.
2. We can choose to abide in Christ.
3. If I see myself as a "branch," and attach myself to a fruit tree, I will be fruit-bearing. Jesus said: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5) This seems counterintuitive. But since will-power doesn't work, why not give Jesus a try?
4. Part of the "fruit" God wants to grow in us is self-control.
5. So if I focus on dwelling in Christ, instead of will-worshiping my way to overcome addiction, self-control will be produced in me.

Focus on abiding in Christ, rather than trying to make something happen. This is the logic of fruit-bearing, part of which is the capacity to say "No."