I think most people would agree that the opposite of the term self-control is losing control. Having a meltdown, losing your temper. This meaning stems from the ‘control’ segment of the term ‘self-control’.
But if we focus on the ‘self’ segment of the term ‘self-control’ another opposite emerges: ‘other’. Other-control. Controlling people and circumstances. (For more reading on this subject see Boundaries by Henry Cloud, John Townsend). Is ‘other-control’ something you can identify with? I certainly can. On several occasions when I have had lots of family or friends staying over at my home everything seems to slip out of my control. The house becomes untidy, my schedule unpredictable and I insecure. In my effort to feel secure again I start tidying up the house and trying to schedule the people in it. My focus is on the circumstances and people in my home.
This other-control mindset and focus is something we may take into 1-2-1 Bible reading. Reading the Bible with someone else, especially with someone you don’t really know, can be scary. You may be questioning your 1-2-1 times and worrying: What if I don’t know the answers to queries? What if I don’t really understand the passage? What if my partner says things that I can’t relate to? In response to these concerns you may feel like delaying meeting up with your partner – controlling the circumstances - so as to avoid having your Bible knowledge weaknesses exposed. In reality, says David Helm in One-to-One Bible Reading, your fears in this area betray a lie that every Christian must resist: the lie that gospel growth depends on us and on our abilities. This is simply not the case. Our proficiency in the Bible is not the final arbiter in seeing spiritual growth occur. We must rest instead on the power of the gospel that is in his word.
Phew, what a relief that is! What a relief it is to know that our growth as Christians, our growth through 1-2-1 partnerships, is not up to us. It’s up to God and his Word. In addition, remember that if you are a Christian you are God’s child. Wendy Alsup in Practical Theology for Women points out that, in Christ, we are adopted into God’s family. And in being adopted into God’s family we are placed in the incredible position of fellow heir with Christ. And this plan to adopt us into His family was put in motion by God before time began. Our position as God’s children now is secure forever. Just as our growth as God’s Children is up to God, our position as His children is eternally secured by Him. So ‘stop striving to relieve yourself of the burdens that plague you. Rest, dear sister,’ says Alsup. ‘Rest in the secure arms of your heavenly Father, who set your story in motion before time began.’
So, let’s get to Bible study! As mentioned last time we will start using a new Bible study method called ‘COMA’. COMA is an acronym for the words Context, Observation, Meaning and Application. Meet up with your 1-2-1 partner and read the passage below:
Colossians 1:24-2:5 New International Version (NIV)
24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.
2 I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.
Now go through the passage together and discuss the following:
Context – What sort of writing is this (a letter, narrative, poem)? Are there any clues about the circumstances under which it was written? What has happened so far?
Go through the passage again and discuss:
Observation – Are there any major sub-sections or breaks in the text? What is the main point or points? What surprises are there? What are the key words? What words or ideas are repeated?
Go through the passage again and discuss:
Meaning – How does the text relate to other parts of the book? How does the passage relate to Jesus? What does this teach us about God? How could we sum up the meaning of this passage in our own words?
Go through the passage a last time and discuss:
Application – How does this passage challenge (or confirm) my understanding? Is there some attitude I need to change? How does this passage call on me to change the way I live?
Set a date for next time. Pray together about what you have learnt.
Don't worry too much about getting the COMA method right first time. Over the next few months we’ll flesh out this method as we study Colossians and look at who God is. (COMA study information is taken from the book One-to-One Bible Reading by David Helm).
by Brenda Daniels
My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:2,3).