"Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior." Titus 2:8-10 (ESV)
One of the things that has been notorious after studying this epistle, is how many times Paul addresses the importance of self-control. The elders must exercise it (1:8), as well as the older men (2:2), the older women (2:3), the younger women (2:5), and the young men (2:6). This makes me think that one of the character traits that should define us as Christians should be "self-control." But how much we fail to be self-controlled. How much I need the Spirit of God to help me in this area!
J.R. Miller said,
"There are men who rule other men—but cannot rule themselves. They are victorious in battle—but they cannot control their own temper, restrain their own speech, or calm and quiet their own hearts. There is nothing beautiful in such a life. Nothing more effectually mars a life—than fretfulness, discontent, worry, or impatience. Nothing is more pitiful—than a life which is made to be strong, kingly, noble, calm, and peaceful—but which is, instead, the slave of every excitement, every temper, every resentment, every appetite and passion."
John Piper writes, (I encourage you to read this short article in its entirety)
"The very concept of "self-control" implies a battle between a divided self. It implies that our "self" produces desires we should not satisfy but instead "control." We should "deny ourselves" and "take up our cross daily," Jesus says, and follow him (Luke 9:23). Daily our "self" produces desires that should be "denied" or "controlled."
That path that leads to heaven is narrow and strewn with suicidal temptations to abandon the way. Therefore Jesus says, "Strive to enter through the narrow door" (Luke 13:24). The Greek word for "strive" is agonizesthe, in which you correctly hear the English word "agonize."
The truth is that maybe we know not what "agonizing" over our sins and temptations is like; most of the times we just let them remain in a secret corner, somewhere in the depths of our heart. We let them stay... a little bit longer. Why not?
To close, I'd like to share the words with which Bryan Chapell concludes his commentary on these verses,
"Prayer, praise, instruction, fellowship, and the service of the church do not fulfill their purposes if we don't function corporately and in community. There is always the temptation to privatize and individualize our faith experience. We tend to make decisions about whom to hear, what to do, and where to serve largely based upon what will be good for us personally. Paul's instruction to Titus prick our consciences in order to make us sense the importance of responsible for others and living our lives in community. The hope we possess and pass in community should force us to consider the interests and needs of others than our own (cf.Philippians 2:1-5)."
Under His sun and by His grace,