WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
JULY 12TH, 2021
TOPIC: SELF-CONTROL AND DILIGENCE AS REQUIREMENTS FOR GOALS’ ATTAINMENT
BY T. O. BANSO
“All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize” (1 Corinthians 9:25 New Living Translation).
It is often said that if wishes were horses beggars would ride. Goals are not achieved by mere wishing. Goals are achieved by a number of factors, including self-control and diligence.
The athletes would tell you how what they needed to sacrifice so that they could keep fit and devote enough time to practise in preparation for competitions. They invest several hours into serious work, sweating, and enduring pains to ensure that they win medals at competitions. Just for a race that may not last more than five or ten minutes in some cases, they engage so much in self-control and diligent work. The result shows on the day of the competition.
1 Corinthians 9:25 says, “All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize” (New Living Translation). Whether your goal is to win a race in a competition, achieve the desired success in other aspects of life, or win an eternal prize, you need self-control and diligence. No significant goal can be accomplished in life without self-control and diligence.
There is always a price to pay to win the prize. Every goal achieved has an opportunity cost. There is an alternative forgone to chieve that goal. You must control yourself and sacrifice some things both convenient and inconvenient to realize your goals. Not many people who have set goals for themselves are ready to pay the price.
They want to have their cake and eat it. They want to use their time the way others who have different goals use their time. They want to work the way others who have different goals work. They also want to spend their money the way those with different goals spend their money. Some of them want to keep as friends other people’s friends who may not be helpful to the realization of their goals.
If you are serious about fulfilling your goals, you cannot do without self-control and diligence. You need the two. These will influence how you use your time, work, and spend your money. Self-control will influence the type of friends you have and where you go.
Everybody cannot be your friend and you cannot honour every invitation to just anywhere. To realize your goal, you may need to cut off from some friends and stop going to some places or attending some meetings because they don’t contribute to the realization of your goals.
You should be spiritually sensitive and wise enough to realize people you need to associate with because they add value to you and sharpen you to realize your goals. Proverbs 27:17 says as iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend. As Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labour. Without self-control or discipline, you cannot accomplish your goals. This has affected many.
The Queen of Sheba had a goal of meeting Solomon, having heard of Solomon’s reputation, which brought honour to the name of the LORD. Therefore, she travelled from her country to come to test him with hard questions (1 Kings 10:1). She paid the price and achieved her goal.
The wise men from the East saw the star of Jesus when He was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king. They followed the star, looking for the “newborn king of the Jews” so that they could worship Him (Matthew 2:1). It wasn’t an easy journey for them; they must have made some sacrifices. But they eventually achieved their goal. They saw Him and worshipped Him. They opened their treasures and presented to Him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh (verse 11).
Jacob paid the price to realize his goal of marrying Rachel. It wasn’t easy for him but since that was his goal, he didn’t give up. Despite being cheated by his uncle, Laban, he agreed to serve additional seven years to marry Rachel. He served for fourteen years just to achieve his goal of marrying Rachel (Genesis 29:20-30). Make sure you have the right goals and make the necessary sacrifices to achieve this. This will be impossible without self-control. It takes self-control to forgo other things that may even appear more attractive or more rewarding.
When Jacob’s goal was the birthright, he sacrificed the food he had prepared, though he was hungry. Getting the birthright was superior to eating that meal. Therefore, he paid the price of going hungry to have the birthright. He endured hunger.
The Bible tells us the story: “Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. And Esau said to Jacob, ‘Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.’ Therefore his name was called Edom. But Jacob said, ‘Sell me your birthright as of this day.’ And Esau said, ‘Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?’ Then Jacob said, ‘Swear to me as of this day.’ So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright” (Genesis 25:29-34 New King James Version).
The price to pay for some goals could include praying. Therefore, you must be ready to pay (pray) the price. You may need to fast. When it became necessary for Queen Esther to appear before the king who had not sent for her for thirty days, she had to fast (and obviously pray too). It was taboo to appear before the king uninvited. Death was the penalty. But to save the Jews from the genocide plotted by Haman, she had to break the protocol to see the king.
Esther said, “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!’” (Esther 4:16 New King James Version). She went to see the king after the fast. When the king saw her standing in the court, she found favor in his sight, and he held out to her the golden scepter in his hand (Esther 5:2).
The flesh doesn’t want to pray but you must discipline yourself to pray. It doesn’t want to fast either. And you must discipline yourself to fast and pray to achieve some goals. You don’t have to feel like praying and fasting before you do so! Jesus emphasized the need to pray and not to lose heart or give up (Luke 18:1).
Some forces must be defeated to achieve some goals. But generally, you should know that Christianity is warfare and Satan is fighting every child of God. 1 Peter 5:8 says our adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour. We are to be sober and watchful. Therefore, you should “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 New King James Version). The New Living Translation says, “Keep on praying” (New Living Translation).
Watch and pray (Matthew 26:41a). Stay alert and pray. Never stop praying. Don’t allow the enemy to plant weeds among your wheat. “But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way” (Matthew 13:25 New King James Version).
Don’t be ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11b). “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 New King James Version). Exercise self-control to fast and pray.
How diligent are you in the pursuit of your goals? Some people dream of success but are too lazy to actualize their dreams. They are only daydreaming. Proverbs 21:5a says the plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty. You cannot achieve your goals when you’re lazy. The Bible warns against laziness or slothfulness. Proverbs 18:9 says, “He who is slothful in his work is a brother to him who is a great destroyer” (New King James Version). Also, Proverbs 12:24 says, “The hand of the diligent will rule, But the lazy man will be put to forced labor” (New King James Version).
Laziness has no place in Christianity. Jesus, our perfect example, said in: “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?’” (Luke 2:49 (New King James Version). Jesus wouldn’t have fulfilled His assignment without working conscientiously. He said in John 5:17, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working’” (New King James Version).
Diligently pursue your goals. “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men” (King James Version Proverbs 22:29). Proverbs 21:25 says, “The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor” (New King James Version). Don’t be like some people who only dream about goals but are too lazy to actualize them.
Exercise self-control; make the necessary sacrifices and do the needful. You may have to cancel, postpone, or suspend some good things to realize your goals. You must practise delayed gratification. Labour diligently to achieve your goals. But labour with wisdom, not as fools (Ecclesiastes 10:15).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, I repent of my lack of self-control and laziness which has hindered me from achieving my goals. I receive the grace to control myself and labour diligently to achieve my spiritual goals and other goals. Father, do the same for all those whose goals are being hindered by a lack of self-control and laziness.
(For over 600 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
WhatsApp No: +2349081295947