“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;I refused my heart no pleasure.” – Eccl 2:10
One thought hit me when I realized I had eaten half a bag of powdered donuts that I had planned to use for my Galentine’s Party that night: I have lost the meaning and importance of self-control. It sounds ridiculous, but I do what I want. If I want to eat three cookies, I eat three cookies. Not on special occasions, but any time I darn well please. If I want to spend $200 online at Gap.com or Victoriassecret.com, I do it. If I am tired and don’t really feel like working out, I lay on the couch. This is me being completely honest. These are areas that I struggle with when it comes to self-control. There are other areas I find easier to be disciplined in but these, I simply forget the word self-control altogether. My battle with self-control hasn’t put us in debt or caused any specific health issues, but it makes me cringe to think how willy nilly I behave sometimes. I really want to learn how to exercise self-control better in these areas.
I seriously came to a point this past week where I thought I can’t keep trying to figure this out with my own limited knowledge. I did some research that led me to a few helpful articles and tons of great Bible verses. Doing research and digging deep is not something I do often, but I am learning so much through it and had to share with all of you.
WHAT IS SELF-CONTROL?
The definition of self-control is “ Self-control is basically thinking before I act. Biblically, it’s a fruit of the spirit that the Lord gives to believers. I’ll get to more of that a little further in.
My word for the year STEADFAST, is all wrapped up in self-control, though I never really thought about it till now. Steadfast is gaining self-control over our emotions, abiding in God’s truth and hopping off the rollercoaster that we let dictate how we feel and thereby respond.
Self-control in areas like food and spending happens when I remain steadfast in God’s truth. When I listen to thoughts that say food will make me happy or spending will satisfy, I am believing lies and much more likely to not exercise self-control.
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WHO IS SUPPOSED TO BE WORKING ON THIS?
We can get this twisted. Is it all God? Is it all me? Who’s doing the work? As I mentioned earlier, I simply have forgotten what self-control is and that it is important, but maybe another reason is that I forget who makes this happen.
There are two parts to self-control: the part God does and the part I do.
God’s role: Verses like 2 Timothy 1:7 and Galatians 5:22-23 encourage me and remind me that I have been equipped by God to resist temptation. Striving for self-control without God remains a self-centered pursuit. It might look noble and like I’m trying hard but the result doesn’t glorify God, it glorifies myself.
“We want Jesus to get glory. We want to control ourselves in the power he supplies. We learn to say no, but we don’t just say no. We admit the inadequacy, and emptiness, of doing it on our own. We pray for Jesus’s help, secure accountability, and craft specific strategies” Source
My role: If we played no part in self-control, we would all exercise this fruit of the spirit but we don’t And it’s because we don’t look at what our role is in this.
“This of course, does not mean that the battle is over and we can “let go and let God.” Rather it means that we are now empowered to engage in the battle. As the Hebrews were promised the land, but had to take it by force, one town at a time, so we are promised the gift of self-control, yet we also must take it by force.” Source
WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS OF NOT EXERCISING SELF-CONTROL?
1. Foolish in the sight of even our enemies.
In Exodus 32:25, it says the Hebrews chose idols, the result was “the people were running wild and…Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies.”
2. Wanting one more/never satisfied
Getting “one more” doesn’t satisfy us. It only feeds our desire to want one more again.
WHAT KEEPS ME FROM EXERCISING SELF-CONTROL?
As I mentioned above, we believe lies that tell us the thing we want will satisfy us. We not only are working with our own sinful flesh, but Satan doubles down on those things we already struggle with and makes sure they look enticing to us. “Ever the opportunist, he comes rushing in when the imaginations of our minds set themselves on the created thing rather than the Creator.” Source
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SELF-CONTROL?
There is FREEDOM in self-control contrary to how we picture it. Proverbs 25:28 tells us “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.”
“Self-control begins to stand out as a great blessing rather than a legalistic burden. It stands against the lies of our own hearts as well as those of Satan and keeps us on the lever path that leads to life.” Source
WHAT I WROTE ABOUT SELF-CONTROL
The Lord has been crying out to teach me this lesson and I have been listening half way. I found notes from last summer of the Proverbs 25:28 passage from above with a ton of notes from what I learned while reading. I had included a few other areas where I lose self-control and even those things that tend to cause it:
1. cursing because of pressure
2. grumpy because of pain
3. selfish because of hurt feelings
Self-control is a response set apart from our emotions and instead decided in advance based on a standard I live by.
What is my plan in advance? What is my standard? Just because I feel pressure or things don’t go according to plan does it really justify my behavior? And even if I could justify it, it NEVER benefits myself so it’s silly to think that having a good reason to do it makes it worth while to do.
The Lord desires my steadfastness. “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him…But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own design.” James 1:12 & 14
Today we talked about the Biblical principles of self-control. Next we will talk about two practical ways for us grow in self-control: The Contentment Challenge and the Power of Habits. I will also have a worksheet to help work through this.
I would love to hear your thoughts. Is self-control an issue you think of or like me does it completely slipped your mind?