Have you ever considered how much self-control it must have taken Israel to obey God at Jericho? The army was full of confidence, ready to fight. Pumped to the max. Yet they were told to march-just march-around the city, not one day but six. It wasn’t until the seventh day that they were to shout the victory cry then attack. The walls would fall and the city would be theirs.
Although Jericho proved to be a resounding victory, Israel did not fare as well in the next battle. In fact, they were completely routed. The cause of their defeat, however, was clear. One man did not exercise self-control. At Jericho, the Israelites had been instructed to dedicate all the spoils to the Lord and not take anything for themselves. But Achan, just couldn’t resist. He wanted the spoils of war and he wanted them now. So he took some of the plunder and foolishly hid it in his tent. His lustful refusal to exercise self-control not only cost Israel the battle, it also resulted in the death of 37 fellow soldiers and the stoning of his whole family. A high price.
But self-control is about more than learning to say no to our desires. It actually trains us to hear the yes of God’s plans. It makes me think of two football teams in position before the ball is snapped. They are full of passion, hyped, ready for the play to start, but (similar to Israel at Jericho) they can’t do what they feel like doing. They have to stay in place, stretching their discipline to the nth degree because if they move too soon, they’ll get penalized for a false start and lose 5 yards. But you can be sure that while they’re waiting, they’re alert. They’re straining every part of themselves to be attentive to what’s coming next.
And so it is with us. Some of the battles we face require time and discipline. That’s why we’ve been given the fruit of self-control. Failure to exercise it could be the deciding factor as to whether we win or lose. So don’t let lust take over…
Wait for the snap, and then give it all you got.