Self-Control Sermon Illustrations

Self-Control Sermon Illustrations

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A ship or an engine or a horse or a fire, out of control, is a dangerous thing; but most dangerous of all is a man out of control.

The words "He that ruleth his spirit [is greater] than he that taketh a city" (Prov. 16:32) were written at a time when to take a city and sack it was the greatest of human achievements. The page of history abounds in accounts of the conquest of cities, telling how, either by process of slow siege or by sudden assault, the invading army stormed the walls and entered the city, leaving death and devastation in its trail. Then the conqueror made his triumphal entry into the city, mounted on his war charger or swaying in his gilded chariot. Through the broken walls he entered, to pass along streets flanked by profaned temples and smoking homes; and as he passed, the cheers of the conquerors made a dismal antiphony to the groans of the vanquished. This was what it meant to take a city. It was the utmost of human endeavor, the most renowned and distinguished of the exploits of man.

But even at that remote age, when the conqueror of a city was the greatest figure on the human horizon, there were those who saw that there was a still greater victory and conquest—the conquest of self. The greatest and most imperial city is that city of the human spirit, whose walls and towers, gates and turrets, are to be found beneath every human breast. He who takes this city and rules it in the interests of reason and faith is the greatest of all conquerors. He that ruleth his spirit is greater than he that taketh a city!


In front of the temple under whose auspices the Corinthian games were held ran a beautiful avenue. Along its sides were marble tablets, on which were the names of the winners of prizes at the games in past years. The great ambition of every athlete of Greece was to have his name inscribed on one of those tablets. Distinction in athletics then did not bring financial reward, as in the case of the notable athletes of our day. What the athlete strove for was to have his name inscribed along that avenue of fame and to wear upon his head the laurel crown. To secure that distinction he subjected himself to the most arduous discipline and training and abstinence for a period of ten months. At the end of that period, trained to the moment, he entered the arena and strove for mastery. It was that training that Paul had in mind when he spoke of the discipline and training to which the athletes subjected themselves, saying that all those who strove for mastery exercised "self-control in all things" (I Cor. 9:25).


Looking upon the immobile, impassive face of George Washington, as reflected in the portraits of Peale and Stuart, one would not imagine that under that calm and even surface there blazed a fiery spirit. Yet on two historic occasions—when he cursed Charles Lee for his insubordination on the battlefield of Monmouth, and then when he broke out in a volcano of wrath when word was brought to him at Washington of the defeat of St. Clair by the Indians near Fort Wayne, November 4, 1791—Washington showed that he had strong passions and was capable of great anger. But that spirit within him was ruled and controlled for the good of his country and for the ends of justice and righteousness. Not the least among the great traits of Washington was his mastery of himself.


If a man sleeps and nods, even for a second of time, when he is at the wheel of an automobile, the automobile will be wrecked. If when a plane is taking off or landing, the pilot loses control, even for the fraction of a second, the wreck of the plane and the death of the passengers will be the result. It is not otherwise with a man's life. A moment's carelessness, a moment's loss of self-control, may wreck his happiness and lay him in the dust.


A Recipe for a Bad Temper

Some people have quite a time with that temper! Something goes contrary to their selfish plan—someone says what does not fit in with their thinking—or something annoys them and they fly into a fit of temper, often doing and saying things which cause their heads to hang in shame.

I was traveling in a train and sitting beside a man, when one of his friends, in a gesture of fun, played an innocent, but foolish prank on him. It annoyed him so that he flew into a temper. Then when he cooled down, he said, "My, wish I did not do that." What was wrong? He was a sincere Christian and loved his Lord, but he had failed to develop an inner power over passion and temper. He had never discovered that Christ could do more than blot out sin, that He could and would enter the very heart and life, and take control by His indwelling presence.

A certain woman who was most faithful in attendance at church, and who manifested a beautiful spirit at all times, lived under most trying circumstances. She was asked, "How is it that you are never out of temper? Is it that you do not feel the injustice, the annoyances?" "I feel them as much as anyone else," she replied, "but they do not hurt me." She was then asked, "Have you some special recipe?" "Yes," she replied. "for vexations caused by people I apply affection. For those caused by circumstances, I apply prayer. And over every wound that bleeds and burns, I murmur the words. 'Thy will be done.'"—The Pentecostal Testimony.


First Laws

A number of ministers were once dining together after an ordination, and when one of them seemed unduly attentive to the good things before him, he met with the approval of the host who said, "That's right! To take care of self is the first law of nature." "Yes, sir," said an old minister sitting by in reply, "but to deny self is the first law of grace!" Self-control or temperance in all things is God's law for all men.—Sunday School Evangel.


Christian Restraint

The story is told of a young minister who was going home late one evening from the church. He entered a crowded car, with his Bible under his arm, and at once there began some sneering remarks from some rough fellows. These remarks kept up, and when the young minister left the car, to the amusement of his companions, one youth said: "Say, mister, how far is it to heaven?" Many a Christian under the circumstances would have kept quiet or have resented the insult; but the minister, with a quiet dignity, and with all gentleness, replied: "It is only a step; will you take it now?" This reply and the influence of the young 'minister keeping his temper under provoking circumstances were later the means of bringing that young man to Christ.—Earnest Worker.


When Her Husband Was Angry

Not long ago a Hindu woman was converted chiefly by hearing the Word of God read. She suffered very much persecution from her husband. One day a missionary asked her, "When your husband is angry and persecutes you, what do you do?" She replied: "Well, sir, I cook his food better; when he complains I sweep the floor cleaner; and when he speaks unkindly I answer him mildly. I try, sir, to show him that when I became a Christian I became a better wife and a better mother." The consequences of this was that, while the husband could withstand all the preaching of the missionary, he could not stand the practical preaching of his wife, and gave his heart to God.—Evangelical Visitor.

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