by: Robert H. Schuller
life at its best ... that's
the title we have given to a series of ten messages and
concluding this morning. This series is based on Galatians
5:22 where St. Paul writes," "The fruit of the Spirit ..." What does he mean,
"fruit"? Fruit is the result of someone who
lives in the Spirit of God. What kind of "fruit"
does a personality produce if the Spirit of Jesus Christ
controls the personality? "The
fruit" (powerful word) of the
Spirit of Jesus Christ is love, joy, peace, kindness,
goodness, patience, gentleness, and finally, the
last word is self-control.
Who needs control?
let's look at that word control. If we want to live a satisfying and successful
life, we have to deal with that word called "control."
There is an intuitive inclination in human beings to try
to control their world and that is important. When we
have the power to control, we can become quite convinced
we are in complete control. Especially if you are the
CEO, the top corporate chief, the head of the corporation
or you are the chairman of the committee, then you have
a very powerful job and you feel you are in control. Obviously
that is necessary in order to be creative and constructive.
We need enough control so others cannot obstruct our creativity
and frustrate us with obstructionist devices or decisions.
Yes, in that we need control. That is true.
The most important control
I challenge you this morning that the most
important place to have control is over yourself!
There are people who do a lot of maneuvering in their
life trying to control others, their spouse, their children,
their neighbors, their fellow employees ... but they don¡¦t
spend much thought controlling themselves. And so we have
a world where in this country, alcoholism is still very
rampant. Drug addiction is a major problem. Obesity is
an epidemic. It is tough and challenging to try to control
there are many people who are morally
neutral. They don't want discipline and self-control in
the moral realm. They want to be free. "Don¡¦t tell
me what to do." "Don¡¦t interfere with my pleasure."
"Let me do my thing!" That challenge first enters
into the human being during adolescence, and becomes a
very strong compulsion in the teenage years. "No
one tells me what to do? " What is self-control?
It is not being arrogant, haughty or egotistical. Instead
it is focusing on who
you are and what God's plan for your life is and should
be, and what kind of life does God want you to live? First
of all you need self-control to determine your own value system.
you can impose self-control. Your father can't ... your
mother can't ... your spouse can't ... your boss can't.
That is the one area where it all stops with you alone.
If you don¡¦t have self-control, it is nobody¡¦s fault
Self-control: The Mark of Leadership
can read all kinds of books on leadership and listen to
lectures on leadership. I've shared and written my thoughts
about leadership, but the last word on leadership ultimately
comes down to self-control. That is where you make the
decisions. Then your destiny
is chosen and captured by your self-control. If you have
self-control, you are on the path to progress, purpose
and success. Jesus said, "... the narrow way is hard
and tough, (that¡¦s self-control) but the broad way leads
to destruction." (Matthew 7:14)
person lived and showed self-control like Jesus Christ.
There is a Bible verse that I preached on perhaps 50 years
ago which really inspired me. It says, "Jesus steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem."
(Luke 8:51) He knew what would happen. He knew the crowds
would throw palm branches and applaud Him on that day,
which has become Palm Sunday. They would want Him to be
king ... to be the "top man." If Jesus had ever
been an ego driven person ... and He never was ... He
would have fallen for it. He could not have resisted it.
But he did not take the "fan power" that was
thrown to Him. "Jesus steadfastly
set His face to go to Jerusalem," because
He had a job to do. He had a calling to fulfill. He had
a divine commission that had to be lived out on a cross.
killed Jesus? Nobody did. He gave His life. Not suicide,
but sacrifice. You say, but God took His life from Him.
God did not take the life of His Son, Jesus. On the cross.
Jesus said, "Father into Your hands I give My soul."
(Luke 23:46). Jesus Christ had the ultimate self-control. Nobody took
it from Him. That is ultimate self-control.
Jesus came to Jerusalem, He rode on a donkey. What humility.
When He stood before Pilate, His silence and His posture
showed complete self-control. When He was brought before
Herrod, again, no panic, no anger, no argument ... He
was quiet. That¡¦s self-control. You can¡¦t measure the
self-control of a person more effectively than to see
Jesus respond when He is verbally attacked face to face
... Jesus remained quiet. Then when His disciples slept
in the Garden and He knew the soldiers were coming and
they would take Him, bringing Him to trial and then to
the crucifixion, He admonished them, but He did not get
angry with them. He said, "Could
you not wait and watch with Me for one hour?"
(Matthew 26:40) Jesus could have lashed out with anger,
but He did not. He could have been bitter, but He was
gentle. And His first words were, "Father
forgive them, for they know not what they do."
(Luke 23:34). That is ultimate self-control! Experience
that in Jesus Christ. He was divine, He was not just human.
We need it to accept our God-given calling. We need self-control
to protect ourselves from manipulation and intimidation
of the cultural pressures that are around us all the time more for
you than for me. You live a tougher life than I do because
people know who I am and they know what my profession
is, so they don¡¦t invite me to improper or evil activities
that are going on. I am not submitted to the pressures
you are. You need self-control because God is counting
on you, every one of you, to be a bright light in a dark
world. He is counting on you to be people of faith, to
encourage those who live with you and work with you. God
needs you and you cannot ... must not ... be manipulated.
You must not be intimidated. You must not yield to pressures.
You must have high and honorable values. You have to set your goals. Then you must manage your goals. That starts with self-control.
Self-control Over Life's Hurts
you need self-control to accept and overcome life¡¦s hurts. This
is a very unusual week for me filled with intimate moments
with two wonderful members of this church. I have two
happy events, for two people who have meant a lot to me
in my life. They are members of this church and good friends.
One event will be a funeral where I¡¦ll say goodbye to
one who has been like a brother, but yes, even a funeral
can be happy when you know you belong to Jesus Christ.
The other event will be a wedding where I¡¦ll perform
the marriage of a wonderful young woman to her chosen
man for life. Both of these people are exceptional examples
funeral will be for Vern Dragt. You've heard about him.
I've written about him in my books. For 48 years Vern
has supported and encouraged me. Listen to his story.
He was a young man, could have become a professional athlete.
When he got married, he needed to earn some money in a
hurry so he got a job as a plasterer. Then suddenly he
was struck down with polio and all his plans had to be
put aside. Instead, he spent several months in an iron
lung. Some of you have been in a prison, probably not
imprisoned in solitary confinement, but there is nothing
that imprisons you like an iron lung.
lived through that. Because of his self-control he did
not become bitter nor lash out. He did not become depressed
or have suicidal behavior. He survived it, by his possibility
thinking, faith in God, faith in Jesus Christ. When Vern
got out of the iron lung, he had to recuperate and be
rehabilitated to get a new job, even though he was very,
very handicapped. He was forced to get a new career and
he became an accountant. Meanwhile, his wife became a
sales person and became one of the greatest, most successful
saleswomen in the world. The first sales check she got
was $80 ... and she took $8 of that $80 and gave it in
the offering plate of their church. There are people who
say they can¡¦t afford a tithe, but I reply that you can¡¦t
afford not to tithe. Every
time the Dragts would earn some money, ten percent went
to the Lord. He and his wife, Lavon, gave most of the
money for the very first ten acres where the Tower of
Hope stands. Later in his life Vern would give a million
dollars for the Dragt Gymnasium for our young people.
They also supported me when I needed the money to launch
the television program. The ten percent gift to the church
grew to where their gifts would add up to millions of
dollars. At nearly 80 years old, in spite of his polio
and handicap, Vern continued to say, "The Lord comes
first and God is good. He promises to bless and God has
really blessed me."
is called self-control! Not being controlled or manipulated
or intimidated by your fears and negative thinking because
your self-control is controlled by the positive faith
of Jesus. That changes everything.
was in Houston when I got the call that Vern was dying
and he lived only one more hour. His family surrounded
him. He was ready to go. When I talked to Lavon, his widow,
I was crying. "I said, "Lavon, I just lost the
best friend I¡¦ve ever had outside of my family. I mean
no one has done more to keep my faith alive and make my
dreams come true and keep my hopes up more than Vern and
you, Lavon." She said, "I just lost my best
friend too. When you talked about gentleness in your sermon
last Sunday on television, challenging us to be ¡¥gentle
giants,¡¦ I must tell you, Vern was my gentle giant."
The Narrow Path of Self-control
is the narrow path that Jesus talked about that leads
to life, abundant and eternal. Lack of self-control is
the broad way that ultimately leads to destruction and
many go there. I am asking you this morning not to walk
out of this church without realizing that you must deal
with the issue of your own self-control. You need to deal
one else has the power to give it to you. No one else
can make those decisions for you. You and you alone will
make the ultimate decision that will define your life
and your destiny.
Self-control Leads to a Gold Medal
other happy event this week is a wedding for someone special
whom I have known for many years. She was a young girl
in this church when she decided she was going to be a
gold medal swimmer in the Olympics. She practiced possibility
thinking to dream her dreams and make it happen. And no
one surpassed her. She made the Olympics, not once, but
five times she won a gold medal in the swimming competition.
not soon forget the night I watched the opening of the
1996 Olympics in Atlanta on television as the Olympic
contenders from all over the world paraded into the Atlanta
arena carrying their flags. There they stood and waited
in the middle of the arena as more and more athletes paraded
in until finally they were all there ... fifteen thousand.
One Olympian would be chosen to enter the arena carry
the burning torch, run down the track and give it to Muhammad
Ali, the greatest Olympian of all, who would then light
the large Olympic flame. Everybody was trying to guess
which of all these Olympic stars would be chosen for that
high honor. I wasn¡¦t prepared when out came our own Janet
Evans! I was crying with joy and pride as Muhammad Ali
took the torch from her and reached up to ignite the Olympic
flame. A few weeks later Janet Evans, back home, came
here to her church running down the center aisle with
her Olympic torch. It was her way of saying thank you
to all of you for all your prayers; they really helped
as she worked hours and hours and hours and hours.
Self-control: The Path to Prosperity
Evans has now completed her university studies, and in
her last year, she met a wonderful student there. He was
also graduating and this coming Saturday night I¡¦m going
to hear them repeat their wedding vows!
does the path of self-control lead? It leads to prosperity,
it leads to peace, and yes, it leads to the pain of self
denial. Some of you are in despair, depression, and are
despondent. Some of you are in pain through chemotherapy,
through amputations. I know many of you are, and I¡¦ve
been praying with some of you. What you need is self-control
to hold the faith, to keep seeing possibilities
in the worst of times.
That¡¦s what Jesus Christ gives.
remember a man who went through a horrible experience.
It was terrible. He was not a believer when he said to
me, "I have three choices now on how I can deal with
it. (1) I can use alcohol. That will take me through.
I don¡¦t know what it will do to me, but I think it will
help. (2) I can commit suicide. I am thinking about that,
or (3) Schuller, I can become a believer, take God into
my life and this Jesus Christ to be my Savior. That¡¦s
the third option. That is the one I¡¦m going for!"
And he took Christ in his life and Christ walked with
him through his pain, through his grief, his tragedy.
self-control. You make the final decisions on what is
going to happen with the one life you have to live. Self-control.
Where do you get it? Well, nobody has got it all the time.
We are still humans. But I don¡¦t know where you can get
it except the church. This institution is established
by Jesus Christ to tell us about faith and about God.
You become like the people you hang around with. I¡¦ve
spent my life hanging around a person called Jesus. He
has given me enough self-control so that I¡¦m not ashamed
of who I am. He will do the same for you. Become a believer!
He will give you self-control.
is a decision. There is a hand in your heart. I¡¦m asking
you to raise it and say, "I¡¦m accepting You, Jesus
Christ, I need more power than I¡¦ve got. I¡¦ve blown
it too often, and I don¡¦t want to do that anymore. I
want You to control me and then
I will be on the path to living life at its best ... abundant