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John Wooden was the legendary coach of the UCLA men’s basketball team in the 1960’s. In a twelve year period, beginning in 1964, Wooden’s teams won the NCAA national championship ten times, including seven wins in a row.* Coach Wooden taught his teams many things about basketball and life, including the importance of self-control. He said, “If you lose self-control everything will fall.”
Self-control means mastery over our desires. If you want an example of self-control, just look at Jesus. Matthew 4 tells us that Jesus fasted and Satan tempted him for 40 days. We are told of three temptations. The first temptation was to fulfill his physical hunger by turning rocks into bread. Jesus resisted. The second temptation offered Jesus the world unopposed, as long as Jesus worshipped Satan. Again, Jesus resisted. The third time, Satan tempted Jesus to prove he was the Son of God with an inappropriate miracle. Jesus resisted.
In every temptation, Satan used a legitimate desire of Jesus. The temptation was to fulfill the desire in the wrong way. Jesus had mastery of his desires, allowing him to resist the temptations. As we mature in faith, we also need mastery over our desires, controlling our actions to act in the way that pleases God. As 2 Peter 1:5-6 reminds us, add self-control to your faith.
*”John Wooden,” Wikipedia, last updated March 7, 2023, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wooden
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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.