“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2: 11-13).
Remember the famous marshmallow test a Stanford University psychologist did in 1972? “Take one now or wait until I get back and have two.” He studied the impact delayed gratification had on these children through their lives. Those who waited, demonstrated a dramatic difference from those who didn’t, later in life. They scored 210 points higher on their SAT, had stronger incomes, healthier families, and happier careers because of their self-control.
The biblical word for self-control is “exousia,” which is supernatural self-control. It is not something we can simply conjure up; it is a fruit of the Spirit. There are two types of power in the New Testament. Dunamis is the power to do things beyond our natural ability. Exousia is the power to not do things we have the ability to do. Whether starting a diet, pursuing a goal or breaking a bad habit, we need exousia. Our long-term success in life is determined by this, relationally, professionally, and spiritually. This is one of the freedoms Jesus made available to us: the ability to not choose to sin which is the natural inclination of humanity. Instead of living for the here and now, it is living for Jesus’ eternity.
Here’s a tale of two disciples. Peter was all in. He stumbled over his faith, swinging a sword to protect Jesus, then denied Him three times. Another disciple, Judas, never bought in with Jesus. The betrayal, which appears to be a spur of the moment mistake, was actually a routine. He was the treasurer who pilfered the disciples’ money. Imagine pick pocketing Jesus! The travesty!
Yet, we short change Jesus a thousand ways; we rob God of His glory by living off of cheap grace. It’s not worth it and we know it. Yet we do it. We sell out for so little, instead of going all in for so much more. When God doesn’t conform to our expectations, how do we respond? God has given us free will; the choice is ours.
Adapted from “All In” by Rev. Dr. William A. Lewis