Limitations Are Good
The title of this post is probably contrary to the things said in our culture today, which is why I feel the strong need to address it. I’ve heard it talked about in the church before, the idea of dying to yourself to follow Jesus. As humans there are things we desire; some good, some bad, and we want to fulfill those desires we have. But not everything is good for us. Like food for instance. Our bodies may crave a big mac from Mcdonalds, or a chocolate shake from In n Out, but it may not be the best decision in regards to our health. So, in a situation like that, we don’t give our body what it wants in the moment because we are practicing dying to ourselves. Our body may not like it in the moment, because our temporary craving isn’t satisfied, but we don’t do it for the instant gratification. We know that saying no to that food, is going to provide our bodies with long term health. We won’t see the affects of our decision until later on. We deny ourselves in the moment, for the health of our bodies for the future.
This is true with other decisions we make, not just with food. There are somethings that our bodies crave, that we cannot indulge in now. We do this, for the health of our relationships and friendships in the future. If you’re used to giving yourself everything you want, at every moment you want it, then when there's a time where you can’t have what you want, you immediately get upset. We’re like kids sometimes when you think of it. When you parents told you- you couldn’t get the toy you wanted, you would cry and complain. Why? Maybe because you were always used to getting what you want and when you can’t have it, you get upset. We are selfish in nature, and we desire things, and don’t like to be told no. I’m right there with you. When I want something, I want it immediately, and don’t like to be told to wait, or even worse, no.
God knew we were like this, and he created a list of ten things for us to follow. He knew we couldn't ever fulfill this list, which reminds us of our need for him and why he sent His Son. But he knew we needed structure, and he knew it was good for us to be restricted in things. Our society doesn’t always understand this today. Technology allows us to have everything at our fingertips at any given moment. Whenever we want something, it’s right there. It’s almost too accessible. When there are no limitations, we begin to become more selfish and feel entitled. We can take this approach with God. When we desire something, and ask God for it and he doesn’t give it to us, we immediately feel let down, and discouraged. We want an answer, a miracle, a solution; immediately.
But growth happens when we are told no. When we can’t have something right when we want it, we grow stronger, and begin to depend on God more. We die to ourselves, and realize we can’t do everything on our own. Just like with the food example I gave above. We can’t see the effects immediately, but our bodies begin to feel better, our energy levels rise, and our body feels healthier and happier over time. Even though in the moment it feels we are left unsatisfied, overtime the effect is greater because of our ability to deny ourselves.
Is there something you desire deeply? Is there something you’re asking God for, and he hasn’t given you an answer, or he’s told you no? You can practice in simple ways of denying yourself daily. When your body wants to rush at the grocery store, step into the longer line. You deny what you want in such a small setting, that it eventually teaches you to be more patient on the larger scale of things. When you’re driving home, get into the slower lane. When you want an extra snack at the store, or an In n Out shake, eat at home instead. This is teaching you to accept the limitations, and deny the things you want in the moment. It may sound silly to start so small, but I believe it will have a greater impact. Think of your day to day life. Do you ever tell yourself no? How about when you’re shopping. You may know it’s not best to make such a big purchase, but you do anyway, because you want it. When you’re not used to telling yourself no, when you are told no, you can’t handle it. It’s like your world spirals out of control, because you can’t have what you want. God can teach us so much about ourselves when we’re told no. When we go through seasons of waiting, confusion, and unanswered questions, we can become frustrated. We’re used to having control and having the things we want. So practice simple ways of dying to yourself. God is going to grow us in this season, and teach us more about our need for him. Not everything is good for us. We can train our hearts and our minds to be fixed on what God wants for us, and what he says is best for us. It’s always so much better than the instant gratification we may want for ourselves in the moment. God’s words are beautiful and true. He didn’t created the ten commandments to condemn us, or give us rules to make us miserable. He gave us the commandments to show we NEED him. We can’t fulfill them on our own, and he knows this which is why he sent his son Jesus. His words are good, and true, and his law is beautiful. We die to ourselves, to be molded and carefully shaped by our creator. He knows what’s best for us, and he wants us to experience the fullness of life.
Colossians 3:1-15 NLT
“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. 6 Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming.7 You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. 8 But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. 9 Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. 11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.”
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.