Monday, January 12, 2009

Surprise! A Handmaiden of the Lord, Post #5

A Handmaiden of the Lord has...


...Otherwise known as Self-Control.

I bet you thought I forgot about this series, didn't you? Never fear - I haven't. I've just been waiting for the right timing to pick it up again.

In the meantime, I've had a few new ideas come to me. This week, I want to write about Temperance, a fruit of the Spirit, which is certainly something a Handmaiden of the Lord ought to have.

But it's such a broad topic. Very broad. And not one that I'm an expert in, by any means!

Yet it's an important topic. Very important. And discussion of it can hardly be unprofitable.

I plan to do a series of posts about self-control this week, Lord willing. They will hardly scratch the surface, but in each of the five posts, I hope to cover a different aspect of self-control. As a bonus treat, I've asked my mother to write the Friday post, on an aspect of self-control that is perhaps the most difficult, and which she is much more fit to write about than me.

I don't really like the term "self-control;" I much prefer "temperance." Since when were human beings able to control themselves without the help of God? Self-control is non-existent. We are either a servant to sin or to the Lord - controlled by one or the other, but certainly not by ourselves. However, I understand that in general conversation, "self-control" can refer to the power God gives His child to stay on the right path, so I'll use "self-control" and "temperance" interchangeably in these posts.

For today:

A Handmaiden of the Lord has poise.

What an old-fashioned word, right?

The word poise makes me think of a princess. ...Or at the very least, a grand Victorian beauty. Poise is associated with grandness, richness, and an uppity class - at least in my mind. I never associated it with self-control until lately.

Lately, I've been thinking that perhaps poise is a pleasant, rather than prideful, thing. Aren't we princesses of the highest King? And if we are to have self-control in our lives, shouldn't it be an outer self-control? I mean, really, if a person can't see your self-control, do you really have any worth speaking of?

Here's a definition of poise that I just found in an online dictionary:

A balanced person - now there's a rare thing indeed! But does not Paul tell the Philippians "let your moderation be known unto all men"? (4:5) That's balance. Apparently, it's also poise.

We all know what poise is not.

The shy young girl, standing against the wall at a gathering. Her eyes flit from group to group, hesitating, and unsure whether to laugh with her fellows or not. She starts toward one cluster of girls her own age, then steps back against the wall again, the picture of awkwardness. An older woman takes pity on her and approaches the wall where the self-banished girl leans. She attempts to make conversation, but is answered with monosyllables and small sighs which betray how uncomfortable the girl is. Everything about the girl, from her posture to her clothing, instantly tell an observer that she is not "in."

Do we also know that poise is not this?:

The flamboyant young thing, wearing her latest glittery purchase, whose giggle reaches all corners of the room. She has no trouble making friends, and her conversations - though they consists of much more talking than listening - are always the liveliest in the room. The envy of shyer females, her tongue can trip along from subject to subject without the slightest effort. As soon as she entered the room, she headed straight for the largest circle, and was accepted with much noise and elation. Like a windup toy, she seems unable to stop herself from constant laughter and talk.

I think the most educational thought about poise I've ever received came from our Pastor during a sermon.

He was telling about something he used to teach his children. "Even his girls," as he put it.
"Walk with authority. Walk like you know where you're going - even if you walk straight into a brick wall."

That doesn't mean we become know-it-alls. And it doesn't mean we become rough.

It just means that

if you're going to do something, do it on purpose.

Don't flit around the room, hesitating, unsure of how to act. Don't laugh just because. If you're going to walk a room, have a purpose once you get to the other side. If you're going to laugh, laugh because something is truly wholesome amusement. We are children of the King. Determine what is right, decide what you must do, and then have the courage - and self-control - to carry it out.

This means that when you're terrified of walking up to those visitors and making them welcome, do it anyway. And do it graciously.

This means that when someone throws verbal mud in your face, know how to react, and carry that out gently and peacefullyy. "Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." (Col. 4:6)

This means that when you have an opportunity to witness, your feet have been "shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace." (Eph. 6:15) beforehand.

This means that when being introduced to someone, you forget your own awkwardness and treat them with the kindness you know you must.

This means that at a gathering, you do your best to make everyone there welcome - even at the expense of your own feelings.

This means that you refrain from talking when you know others wish to speak - even if that perfect story is on the tip of your tongue!

This means that you are balanced. Stable. Prepared for anything life might throw at you. Rudeness, shyness, new situations, unkindness....nothing should be able to throw you off balance and behave in a way that you hadn't planned. All your behavior is pre-meditated, and you have determined beforehand to be kind, gracious, tactful, etc.

You are fixed on the rock, and that rock is Christ.

This means, "Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it." (1Peter3:8-11)

A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches.
(Proverbs 11:16)

Rules for Participation:

Each of you ladies - old and young - who read this blog have insight that you can contribute for the edification of the rest of us. Particularly those of you who are older in the faith...but even younger sisters can have words of wisdom. I would like to humbly request your active involvement in this series.

In the comment section of each post, I would like each of you to do one of two things;

~ 1: If you do not have a blog, please leave your thoughts directly in the comment section.

~ 2: If you have a blog, please go there and write a small post containing your thoughts on whatever quality is under discussion here. Make it Biblical; share verses the Lord has used in your heart. The world is full of opinions - we don't need more of that. We need more of the Lord.

Then come back here and leave a link to your post in the comment section. (To make it easier for us to find the right post, please link directly to the post, not your front page.) If you would like to, please direct your blog readers here so that they can find more discussion, from other readers.


Sandra said...

This is such a great post Amber. I completely agree with you - we don't need opinions/ideas from the world, we need more of the Lord and His word :)

I don't think I have much to contribute, but I think one of the things that helps me allot is that I'm quiet by nature, very shy. I'm not the kind of person to just blurt something out. I'm also a deep thinker, at least people have told me that, so I always try to think about what I'm going to say, especially if I'm in a situation that demands some response of me.

I love Proverbs 16:32 "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city."

Talking about one aspect of temperance, right?

I try to remember and practice James 1:19 "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath."

This verse, I think is specifically dealing with temperance/control. We have to sometimes control our speech, we have to refrain at times from blurting out what pops in our heads, and we definitely need to control anger and wrath that builds up in us at times, even if it's rightful indignation, we can sometimes let out the wrong way.

Hope this helps somehow :)

Amber said...

Thanks, Sandra. Your comments and input are always welcome.