I noted on my Facebook page the other day that golf is a great metaphor for the Christian life in that the more self-control you maintain during the game, the better it goes for you. In other words, playing golf well will not come about when you give yourself over to the flesh. The flesh screams at you every time you stand over the ball for the next shot. What does your flesh scream? “Hit the hell out of it!” But any golfer knows that hitting the hell out of it will lead to a hell of shot… out of bounds, into the woods, into the river, or even into the unknown. Very few good things ever come from hitting the hell out of the ball.
A good golfer knows that what is necessary is self control during his swing. He cannot just get up to the ball, hitting it as hard as he can and hoping it works out. Far more often than not, it won’t work out. The best thing to do is control the swing and body so that all that must happen for a good shot to result, will happen. The head must remain still. The back swing cannot be too quick. The follow through must lead to the swivel of the body so the belt buckle is pointing in the direction that is desired of the ball. The head, must remain still, until the follow through. Shoulders cannot dip and knees cannot raise up. Even when all these things happen in harmony and self control, the ball still goes out of bounds. But more often than not, when it is all done properly, the ball is hit well and placed well.
Self control is a must for the Christian walk. We are those who are not to be given over to the flesh which screams at us off and on throughout the day. Already, as I sit here in my chair, coming up on 10:35 a.m., my flesh and I have already battled. My flesh wanted to scream at stupid drivers on the way to work. It wanted to scream at the slow and inefficient postal workers when I bought my stamps. It wanted to scream at the heavens because I’m so angry about life beyond my control. However, all of that would be sinful in nature.
Christ calls us to be self controlled. We are not to give ourselves over to these things, as the world declares. I’m reading a book written by a psychologist and she devotes one entire chapter to anger and the goodness of anger. She is arguing that anger is good because it breaks us out of inactivity. Yet the Scripture tells us not to be angry (excluding righteous anger here, which excludes about 98 percent of our anger). It tells us not to sin in our anger, or continue being angry. In fact, Paul writes to the Ephesians that we are not to grieve the Holy Spirit with our anger. We are to put away all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking. By not doing so, we grieve the HOLY SPIRIT. In other words the world argues for anger management, the Bible calls for us to put anger away from us, to repent of it.
All that requires self control, which we are incapable of without the Holy Spirit. This is why it grieves the Holy Spirit so when we do not put these things away from us. He has given us the ability to do so, but we choose the flesh instead. Yet, every time we do, it doesn’t go well with us. We lose out on being more Christlike when we choose to harbor our anger, our malice, our clamor, our evil speaking. Christ died on the cross to make us new creations, given us His Spirit, yet, with our fleshly desires we choose the ways of the world, instead of the ways of Christ.
By doing so, we spend our lives in the spiritual wilderness, the spiritual rivers, woods, gullies and we miss out where we are supposed to be, up on the fairway. When we choose the way of the world, and the flesh, we are at best living triple bogey lives. What God wants for us is so much better. He wants us hitting pars, getting birdies, rejoicing in eagles. As believers, we do have the right to choose to turn away from these things because we do have His Spirit. By not doing so, we’re no better than the cursing, triple bogey golfer in the woods.