When I was in third grade, my father purchased a horse for me and my brothers to ride. We named him Zorro, borrowing the name from a popular television show. Zorro quickly became my best friend. I remember sitting high up in a mango tree and combing Zorro’s mane for hours. We would have wonderful one-way conversations about all the exciting happenings in my eight-year-old world.
When there was a long stretch between riding days, Zorro would do what many horses do—become lazy and avoid anyone he saw with a bridle in their hands. Something about that bit between his teeth made him prefer grazing in a far away field over being constrained and given orders by a bossy female. I came up with all kinds of tricks to catch him off-guard, such as calmly munching on carrots as I brushed his side. Sometimes I would hold out a hand full of sugar cubes. Zorro was pretty smart for a horse and often saw through my trickery, but occasionally I won the contest.
Once I had the bridle in place, my wish was his command. We would trot through the open gate and then head for the dirt trail at the edge of our property. I loved galloping on Zorro because he was smooth as silk in a full run. All I had to do was give a slight tug on the reigns and he would respond immediately, slowing down to a trot again or turning left or right.
Riding Zorro with a bridle was an exhilarating experience. If I had attempted to ride him without a bridle, it would have been a life-threatening experience. When the Bible says that our tongues need to be bridled, I can appreciate the word picture. A bridle controls great power that would otherwise be dangerous if not deadly. Self-control is no different. The very word tells us that within ourselves there are things that must be controlled.
The good news is that self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. I love what Paul says in Titus 2:11-14. He doesn’t tell me to girt my teeth or just say no. He doesn’t tell me to muster up enough inner fortitude to resist my out-of-control passions. What he does tell me is that God’s grace trains me to live a self-controlled life. God’s grace is a gift as well as a power present with me in the Holy Spirit, who gives me eyes to see and a heart that believes Christ is everything I want and need. God recreates me from the inside out, giving me new godly desires, so all those competing desires that tug at my heart loose their power over me as I enjoy God more and more in this life.
The greatest thing in the world is knowing Christ!