Bible Reading: Luke 9:51-56
The Lord is slow to anger and rich in unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. Numbers 14:18
YOU KNOW HOW you feel when you’re really tired.
The disciples had been walking all over the countryside with Jesus, feeding thousands of people, watching Jesus meet Moses and Elijah, healing a demon-possessed boy. It had been a really busy week.
So when the people of a Samaritan village claimed there was no room anywhere in the whole village for them to stay, the disciples got kind of huffy.
“Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?” James and John suggested. None of them really like the Samaritans anyway. (Samaria High School had been their bitter rival in the state championships for years.)
“Yeah!” someone else agreed. “Let’s vap-o-rize them!”
Jesus didn’t say anything. The expression on his face made it clear that if he was going to vaporize anyone, his vengeful disciples would be first. Then he turned around again and walked down the road toward the next village.
After a few moments passed, John slapped his brother, James, on the shoulder. “Call down fire!” he said in a disgusted tone of voice. “What a stupid idea.”
“Hey!” James answered indignantly. “You’re the one who said it.”
“Did not!” John said.
“Did too!” his brother insisted.
Well, OK, so maybe it didn’t happen exactly that way, but it’s not that far off. (See today’s Bible reading, Luke 9:51-56, for the real story.) This much is true, though: The disciples had an accurate idea of Jesus’ power—he could have “vaporized” that Samaritan village. But they had an inaccurate understanding of Jesus’ self-control—he controlled his power (and maybe even his desire) to destroy that village.
That story illustrates the fact that God not only commands self-control because he values it, but he also values self-control because he is self-controlled. God isn’t controlled by his emotions. He’s not controlled by outside influences. He’s not controlled by circumstances. He is self-controlled.
You and I should be happy about that. Were it not for the Lord’s self-control, we might have been vaporized long ago! We should also be grateful because God’s self-control helps us to know that self-control is right—even when we’re tempted to vaporize a village.
REFLECT: What makes self-control right? Can you think of any other instances in which God exercised self-control? Do you think he sometimes exercises self-control with you? If so, describe that experience. Do you think he can help you exercise self-control? If so, how?
PRAY: “God, please help me to become more like you in every way, especially in showing more self-control.”