The glory of self government is seen fore-mostly because it is a fruit of the Spirit. But it also brings with it industry, participation, ambition, and a host of other practical benefits in a society.
But the fruit of the Spirit is…self-control: against such there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23
Some argue that this final of the seven fruits of the Spirit should be translated as “Holy-Spirit-control” rather than “self-control,” for they say that doing anything in the power of “self” is antithetical to Christianity, which is a religion of God’s enabling grace. I agree with that concept, as all good has its source in God; nevertheless, there is a world of possibilities in this concept of self-control as a fruit of the Spirit’s creation.
Related to the idea of self-control are the ideas of autonomy, self-respect, drive, optimism, vision, charity, healthy ambition, and self-government. To get a picture of what is meant by self-government, go back to the small, fledgling country of Israel in the 1950s and 60s. Imagine how the Jews had moved there with vision, making “aliyah.” Consider how they had skin in the game when Arab nations immediately began to attack them. Think of how Captain Uziel Gal of the IDF had invented the now-famous Uzi machine gun as a contribution to the safety of his nation, following the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, and the horrors of the Holocaust. Think of the enterprise and endeavor of the business owners in that new desert region. This is a fairly good picture of “self-government,” and it’s a wonderful thing. There is productivity, charity, benevolence, law, and a great degree of order in a most unstable and unsettled region of the world.
This has been a picture of America, as well. The founders had a vision that life was bigger than allowing bullies to terrorize and kill people at sea. The God-given opportunities for greatness and freedom in a new land were too special to be squandered living under the petulant demands of a foreign king. In the early days of America, government was simply the exercise of people’s will. They had a government because it could serve a purpose.
These days, the government is wholly outside of our hands, too big and complex for us to even influence, and has become a bloated destroyer of the economy (e.g., EPA, red tape on nuclear power, etc.), and a means to enabling our overthrow by enemies via funding them (e.g., the Iran Deal).
That is a sad picture; but there’s no excuse for it when 70% of Americans profess the Christian religion (as of 2014).
Can you imagine Israel, having entered their land; and, instead of crowning King David, they stick their tail between their legs like a beta-dog and crown one of the few Canaanites remaining among them as their King? And then picture them holding five synagogue meetings a week to preach to each other about the necessity of increased persecution from the Canaanite government, and you have a perfect portrait of the church in America today.
That is where the church is. She is a beta-dog, and happy to be so. You will not find any of the leaders in the Bible (Abraham, David, Solomon, Jeremiah, Jesus, Paul, Peter) acting like a beta-dog. No. They had confidence and boldness. They had self-respect. And they believed that what they preached was the truth.
The closest you come to a Christian leader acting like a beta-dog in the Bible is when the Apostle Peter became legalistic and inconsistent and would not eat with Gentiles, and Paul had to rebuke him.
But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. – Paul, Galatians 2:11
Where there is self-government, people care about each other. People care, period. The opposite of self-government is abdication of leadership, and it leads to sloth, pettiness, disregard for life, disinterest in earning an honest living and thereby helping others, and so on.
Self-government is precisely why many small businesses flourish and become benefactors to society – somebody had an idea, and had the insanity to imagine that they could do it themselves!
I don’t know what the best answer is for our country going forward, but I do know we as spiritual Ahabs should again assume a measure of leadership. Where there’s a will, there’s a way to self-government. Paul was tortured for awhile, but he found a way for the Romans to treat him and his fellow believers with respect, even when they were only a tiny minority.
Innocent people are losing their heads in Syria. Our economy is suffering. Immorality is being promoted. It’s time for the 70% to earnestly reach for the glory of self government.
Those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them. – Pressfield paraphrasing Socrates