I wrote a section of the devotional for our church’s upcoming study on the fruits of the spirit, and my prompt was “self control” for Romans 12:1-2. I thought I’d share it with you guys, too! (Let me know if I screwed up on grammar or anything so I can fix it before I submit it. :D)
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. -Romans 12:1-2
Living as a Christian in today’s world is hard—really hard. We’re blessed to live in a society where opulence is everywhere and beautiful things are commonplace. We want for nothing, and even those that are struggling are incredibly wealthy compared to most people on Earth. Yet this can be a curse, as well. We become comfortable in our lives of luxury and allow our standards to slip. When you can do literally anything, it takes immense self control to maintain your values.
That’s especially a problem in high school, where anything goes and peer pressure rules. To set and keep those boundaries is a challenge, but the reward is great. Like Romans 12:1 says, to be holy and pleasing to God is the greatest worship you can offer Him. When your heart remains unswayed by 1) how others expect you to conform, and 2) your own temptations, it pleases Him to no end. As my mom would say, it tickles His heart.
Another important aspect is to have a community of people who share your same values. You’ll never be pressured to conform if they’re fighting your battles alongside you, and on top of that you’ll be able to share your triumphs and losses. That’s where the church comes in. Not only is it your responsibility to exercise self-control and maintain your values, but you should also encourage others in the church and help to provide an environment where they don’t have to worry about peer pressure.
Romans 12:2 has been my “verse of the year” for about three years, because it means so much to me and is constantly applicable in my everyday life. I’ve grown to rely on my self control. I’ve been a vegetarian for ten years without touching meat, and—with God’s help—resisted the peer pressure of middle school and high school in a way that I hope pleases Him. Being “cool”, “in”, “hip”, or “super-fly”…. All those pale in comparison to the reward that God will offer us in heaven in exchange for our pure hearts.
1) Identify areas where peer pressure and conformity are testing you. It could be obvious (drugs, pornography), or you could be challenged subtly (language, the way you dress). Make it a point to stand up against them and keep your heart pure.
2) Do you know anyone who’s struggling with nonconformity? Let them know that you support them in their efforts—then take action. Invite them to coffee! Introduce them to people who share your same values! Make it easy to do the hard, but right, thing.
3) Pray that God would help you as you continue in this journey toward Him. Remember Romans 12:1-2 and the rewards it offers. Heaven’s gonna be great!!