Anyone that knows me well knows that if I could live off brownies and burgers forever, I would do so happily.
Sadly these two food items alone are not a good balanced diet. This means that at times I have to exhibit self control to not eat them at every meal. This is not easy when I have a sweet tooth and there is some really good brownie staring me in the face. But knowing this fact is the first step to me being able to own it and not let it own me.
As the year is just starting out I wanted to discuss self control and how we as believers can use this fruit of the spirit to live a life that is satisfying, exciting and full of things we may want to overcome this year but haven’t been able to kick.
Self control is a Fruit of The Spirit (see Galatians 5:22). It requires an ability to resist, avoid and restrain ourselves from from urges, feelings, impulses and situations that we know will have a less than desirable outcome. Self control is not something we can do without Gods help. We all have our vices — To much tv viewing, scrolling through our newsfeed 20 times a minute, watching one youtube video which leads to another that leads to another — as well as the more serious addictions that can also impact those around us, such as excessive drinking, smoking, overworking, or overeating. The list could go on, but digging deep we would find that we ALL have some areas where we lack control. What happens is that those area starts to control us. If you aren’t sure what this area could be for you, this verse in Matthew offers some great insight:
Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” Meaning that usually where a person is investing ther time, heart money and emotions is usally where their heart is.
What do you need to change (or perhaps continue) this year?
One area of my life that I had to take control over was my bad eating habits and incorporating exercise in my life. I started this journey about 4 years ago (and what a journey its been). It was so hard at first to even just learn to cook properly never mind it being healthy! That came a while later. The idea of the gym terrified me as I felt so inadequate, clumsy and just plain silly being there. Now it’s the opposite where it feels weird not going weekly! Changing these habits required me to really desire this change because I knew the benefits, and that even though it wasn’t easy it would be worth it in the end. Like anything you are trying to change, it can be hard, and you will probably mess up along the way and fall back into old habits. Let me tell you right now that is okay! You are human and have no obligation to be perfect or to get it right all the time.
This may seem like silly advice but starting small can really lead to bigger successes. It can be anything really. Making your bed daily, have breakfast every morning or get up five minutes earlier. Perhaps write a to-do list or make a schedule of what you would like to achieve each day. Write it down no matter how trivial it may seem. Sometimes seeing that we have achieved what we set out to do can motivate us to continue each day. Find what works for you and stick to that.
I encourage you to simply start somewhere.
What does the Bible have to say about Self Control?
The bible has quite a bit to say actually.
The Bible teaches us the importance of being prepared.
Paul in the bible stands out as someone that exhibited self control. He wanted to teach the people how to live for God in a corrupt world. The church of Corinth was plagued by every sin and temptation. Christians were struggling to resist temptation, finding it near impossible to not just give in and go with the crowd. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Paul speaks of athletes and what is needed to succeed: self control, preparation, hard work and a desire to do what pleases God.
In a world that is not all that different than Paul’s, we are often not too keen to put in hard work to see results. The passage in Corinthians is a great passage of scripture to teach us how we can learn to be self controlled and allow us to make wise choices, to say no to what dishonours God and say yes to what truly please Him. We have to really work at it!
Having self control helps us to choose our words wisely.
Another person that speaks of this characteristic is James.
He was a guy who was committed and excited to explain to people what it meant to live a Christian life. He was someone who had the self control to not only know the Word of God but to be able to live it out. In James 3:6 He speaks on the power of the uncontrolled tongue and how our words really do have the power to uplift or to destroy those around us. The tongue may be small in size but the damage it can cause when not properly controlled can cause havoc.
Do you find yourself complaining, lying, saying harsh words, or saying words that you know you shouldn’t? Ask God to help you in this area. Once the tongue is controlled our actions can be drastically changed.
Having self control helps us to be responsible and faithful.
Can you remember being a kid and wanting a pet? You had seen the cutest puppy and you tried with all your might to convince your parents that you WILL look after it and walk it and play with it every day, but it all seemed to fall on deaf ears and you were let down with the words “I know who will end up being responsible for this animal ,and ill give you a hint, it isn’t you!”
Having the self control God gives us helps us to be people who are able to handle what is given to us because we know our limits, talents and also our weaknesses. It allows us to say yes to the right things and no to the things that aren’t okay.
Luke 16:10 ” If you are faithful in little things , you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things you wont be honest with greater responsibilities.”
He wants us to be people who show integrity no matter the responsibility.
Having self control helps us with trials and overcoming hard times
Theres no point in sugarcoating it. Life is tough. No-matter who you are, I’m sure there have been moments in your life that just plain sucked.
What can we do about these hard times? I love what it says in James 1 :2-4: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds,3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
While in some cases we may have no control over what happens, we CAN control OUR reaction to it. We can still have the self control to not lash out in anger, hate, rage or revenge. Is this easy to do when you have been really hurt and that hurt is deeply rooted? Honestly no it’s not. God says we are to die to our self and take on His ways of dealing with all the things that life throws our way.
In a world that is getting more out of control as each day passes, we still have a choice with how we are going to respond to God, others and ourselves. Will you choose today to be a person who is willing to exhibit self control with your words, actions and in your faith?
Ask God to show you the areas that you need to let go of, and allow Him to change you to be more like Him. Remember be kind to yourself as you start this journey. Take one step at at time and don’t forget to celebrate every victory no matter how big or small.