Friday, January 27, 2012


I read about a study this morning about Religion and self-control. The participants were asked to do crossword puzzles in which the words were either religiously oriented or random. After doing the crossword puzzles, the participants went on to complete other tasks that required them to exercise willpower or self-control. The article suggested that the participants who saw the religious words performed better on the self-control tasks than the participants who saw the random words.
This finding is not too surprising to me, because people often associate religion with trying to control yourself and not sinning. Some people suggest that this may be the whole purpose of religion, helping us control our hedonistic urges. 
In his first letter to the Thessalonians, the apostle Paul seems to be endorsing self-control. He says that Christians should live a holy life, abstaining from merely following our basic desires. However, Paul did not say that this is the primary ends to which the life of a Christian is aimed. He said in verse 5 that this ability to be self-controlled is a trait which may overflow from knowing God.
I think the overall idea is that knowing God may help one to have a different purpose in life, rather than doing what makes you happy at the moment. If we are going about the aims of God in the world (loving our neighbors, seeking justice, showing mercy), controlling ones’ self becomes merely a means to a much bigger end of seeking his kingdom on earth.

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