Control Yourself “More and More”
By Rev Arnold Chow
November 13, 2022
I remember once when I played Pictionary (a drawing riddle game) with my family, I picked an answer which says “Pay TV.” So I drew a dollar sign and a TV set. My wife quickly came up with the correct answer for the riddle. But my kids asked: “What is that?” It turned out that the board game we had was the version 20 years ago. Pay TV similar to Cable TV were there but now such services have been replaced by video streaming services.
Video streaming audio-visual platforms have a lot to offer. Not only are there new productions but many old drama series are also on offer. When you look back at the old drama series after watching the new ones, do you notice that other than the differences in video resolution, plot and costume, the inter-personal relationships exhibited in contemporary drama series are more complicated? Even messy male-female and marital relationships are treated as normal. The truth is that contemporary productions reflect the reality of society to a certain extent: when people are getting increasingly confused about love and lust, unfaithfulness and improper behavior are treated as normal.
In the Greco-Roman culture which the early church was situated in, marriage was regarded as a means to retain wealth and power. People were also accustomed to “passionate lust” (1 Thessalonians 4:5), which was seldom criticized by public opinion. But the Bible exhorts believers: “In this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins...” (4:6). Improper behavior disregards oneself and the family of the other person. It is selfish and greedy. “The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins”! On the negative side, this is a stern warning for believers. The “punishment” points to both the final judgment as well as the terrible consequences in this life arising from such behavior. We must be careful.
On the other hand, the Scripture reminds believers: “… we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more” (4:1). That is to say, believers need all the more to take the initiative to actively “learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable” (4:4).
I have a friend who is a fan of fantasy fiction of the Middle Ages. When he learned that a large video streaming platform is making a film version of a famous novel, he was filled with expectations. He watched the first episode and saw how grand the film version was. Yet, he also found that many unnecessary scenes of lust were added to the film. His conclusion was: I had better go back to the clean, original novel.
For sure, the Holy Spirit will work in the lives of believers, but we must also strive to control ourselves. These two aspects are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they complement each other. The Holy Spirit had reminded this friend of mine, and he had also controlled himself “more and more.” May we admonish one another: Keep and maintain our relationship boundaries and work hard to keep watch over our own body and heart, and “further” protect the family and relationships God has blessed us with.