Moderate Your Desires for the Good of Others
Great relationships don't just happen -- they are nurtured and developed through the use of spiritual construction materials, or what we know as the fruit of the spirit. Relationships are built using love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, meekness, faithfulness, and self-control. (Gal 5:22-23)
For many people, self-control only has to do with weight management and sexual desire, but the Holy Spirit has so much more in mind when He included self-control in the basic fruits of the spirit. Self-control is when you:
moderate your desires
for the good of the relationship
There are many desires people have over the course of their lives -- desires to work more hours, to have more fun, to buy more things, to do what we want. But if we are to grow a truly healthy set of relationships, our desires at various times must be moderated or else desires, even very good ones, can damage or kill a relationship if they are let loose or left unchecked.
Years ago, I really wanted to pastor a larger church in another part of the country. This church alluded to the idea that I would be selected for the job. I had preached there on a few occasions and had been very well received. When I began praying and discussing this opportunity and my deep desire to do this with Dana, my wife, she jokingly said, "I hope you can come back and visit us on the weekends because we are staying here. I really want you to get what you want but that move at this time in our family's life would be way too disruptive and I don't think it is wise." I remember in my prayer time the Lord showed me that He agreed with her. God was asking me to moderate my desire for the sake of my girls and our relationship as a family. I also asked a number of mentors, even the ones who wanted to see me take the "promotion," and they all agreed that the family was more important. God was whispering self-control.
I do not regret doing what God asked me to do. I would make the same choice again now that I did then, but I would just make the decision more quickly. The relationship I have with my children, and the emotional, mental, and spiritual health that each of them has because of the roots they have put down is priceless. Our marriage and family relationships are more robust because I partnered with God (and my wife) to moderate my desire.
I remember one family I worked with where the mom desired a more fun-filled life than she currently had raising two daughters and cooking dinners every night. She was bored and restless. She was very attractive and when she went out with her girlfriends, she attracted a lot of male attention. Eventually, she had to choose to moderate her desire for "good times" or throw caution to the wind and let her real desires out. I talked with her before she had made her final decision. I pleaded with her to practice self-control. I warned her, "If you do this, you will have a lot of 'fun,' but you will also collect diseases, beatings, scars, and most importantly, you will break the heart of these two little girls that adore you." She chose not to moderate her desires and pursued the wild party scene with various men. She traveled the world from party to party, but five years after she left, she came back-older, bent by the booze, broke, diseased, and wounded by numerous men. The most tragic part was that her daughters wanted no part of a relationship with the mother who had abandoned them.
In every relationship, there will be times when you have to moderate a desire for a period of time for the sake of that relationship. Most work places require that you moderate your desire for breaks and fun during the 8+ hours you are at the work place. In fact, they fire people who don't moderate that desire. Sometimes you will have to moderate your desire to say things that you think are true because it is clear that the people in the relationship are not prepared to hear what you have to say. Saying those things would only cause them to hate you and push you away from having any influence.
Take the time to be reflective in each of your relationships. Go through the relationships you have in your life -- God, your self, spouse, kids (grandkids and other family members), co-workers, neighbors, church friends/pastors, people you work out with or volunteer with, and so forth. Ask God to prompt you when a desire you have needs to be moderated to build the healthiest relationship with that person. It will be different for each one. Let God know that you are listening and find ways to partner with Him in moderating those desires. Remember, you are not backing off from accomplishing what God wants you to accomplish. You are pushing forward with what God truly wants and what you want: tremendous, righteous relationships. (Matt 22:37-39)
I look forward to interacting with you during your spiritual journey. Please email me at email@example.com to let me know how God is working in and through your life. Your greatest life is just ahead.
In His service,
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