|Snowy pine bough in my back yard|
“The making of a man is making your body do
what it doesn't want to do.”
Robert 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. The capacity to wield this word will not 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 of Jesus after he fed the 5,000. The people rushed after him to make him an earthly king. To this flattery and opportunity for power 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.
M. Scott Peck described The Road Less Traveled as "gratification delay." "No" is, perhaps, the ultimate other-centered word.This is a narrow road, said Jesus, and few take it. But it is the road to freedom.
Let the "No" of Christ be formed in you, and go free.