Practice Restraint

5 Mar

Japanese Doggie in JeansDoggie Q & A:

Q: What dog loves to take bubble baths? A: a shampoodle.
Q: What dogs are best for sending telegrams? A: Wire-haired terriers.
Q: What kind of dog sniffs out new flowers? A:  A bud hound.
Q: What is the dogs’ favorite city? A: New Yorkie.
Q: Who is the dogs’ favorite comedian? A: Growlcho Marx.
Q: What do you call a happy Lassie? A:  A jolly collie. *

Kitty-Kat Q & A:

Q: What looks like half a cat? A: The other half.
Q: What do cat actors say on stage? A: Tabby or not tabby.
Q: What do you get, if you cross a cat and a gorilla? A: An animal that puts you out at night!

FatCat in Overalls

I (Dawn) had fun buying my son’s dog Daisy a new spring coat the other day at Petco. It was bright yellow with a big pink flower and the words, “Little Sunshine” on the back. But I almost bought Daisy a pair of blue jeans! (Something like those in the picture, above.)

Seriously, this is one area that I could get totally silly over. I remember, as a little girl, dressing up my cats when I lived in Iceland.

It took a lot of restraint for me to not go absolutely crazy at the pet store, buying a whole wardrobe for cute little Daisy. (I saw the cutest little pink and yellow plaid sundress that would have matched the jacket!) But I knew the purchases would be foolish ~ spending money I do not have.

Restraint could be defined as holding back, but it is better linked to the ability to wisely control or moderate passions and impulses. Some people think of restraint as a loss of freedom; but restraint is more properly related to wisdom. We know what is good … what is best … and we choose accordingly.

Have you ever known people who have little ability to restrain themselves ~ little self-control? As I watch our legislators spend and spend and spend, I find myself yelling, “Practice a little restraint, will ya?” But that’s another issue …

Some people seem to be able to restrain their impulses naturally, with little effort; but there is usually at least one area where each person struggles.

(Confession time. I struggle eating just one piece of creamy Dove candy ~ anyone else struggle with that?)

Where is it hard for YOU to practice restraint? Eating? Spending? Some good activity that can be overdone? A harmful activity that is so tempting?

As I thought about “restraint,” I reminded myself of a few important truths:

  • The Bible teaches moderation or restraint as part of our testimony, and especially as we think about the Lord’s return (Philippians 4:5 KJV; NIV ).
  • The Bible teaches stewardship ~ that what I have is not my own; it all belongs to God (1 Corinthians 4:7; 6:19-20).
  • The Holy Spirit within us teaches and motivates us to practice self control (Galatians 5:22-23a; 2 Timothy 1:7).

God wants us to totally avoid harmful or sinful activities and choices. That’s a given, throughout the scriptures. But in things that aren’t necessarily harmful or sinful ~ and it’s usually a matter of preference ~ we are expected to be wise about indulgence or our level of participation.

But Friends, we need to study the Word of God and guard our hearts, because it’s easy to rationalize.

The wisdom of the world says, “Hey, you can partake in anything as long as you don’t overindulge.” But the Bible calls us to a higher standard. In fact, the word “moderation” in scripture is closely related to the words “gentle” and “yielding.”  In other words, we yield to the Holy Spirit’s control and live in gentle submission to God, choosing wisely according to the truth and principles in scripture.

It’s not always easy. Sometimes, we need to set some new boundaries or strategies in place, to help us practice our restraint. Remember my struggle with Dove candy? Now, there’s nothing wrong with chocolates, but I’m discovering that I can’t keep chocolates in my house. I’ve been getting bags of them for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, National Pet Week, whatever.  So I prayed and asked God for wisdom (James 1:5), and my new strategy is to limit eating chocolates to a small portion eaten somewhere other than my house ~ and for special occasions, not as everyday fare.

What’s YOUR new strategy for practicing restraint? Let’s help each other!

* http://www.kidsjokes.co.uk/jokes/animal/dogjokes.html

** http://www.kidsjokes.co.uk/jokes/animal/catjokes.html

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