When I wrote my post about failing, I realized there was much I needed to give myself grace for, but I also noticed there were some areas in which I really needed to shape up.
It seems that in most areas where I am struggling, a good dose of self-control could fix much of the problem. (I didn't say all).
When I have self-control to keep my voice low instead of yell, the kids are happier and I don't feel guilty.
When I have self-control to get up and make dinner instead of read a book my family is nourished and, hey, I don't feel guilty!
When I have self-control to get to bed instead of staying up late surfing the net I'm much nicer to be around.
When I have self-control to say no to the cookies, I keep off unwanted pounds and feel better about myself.
Self-control is a serious factor in how much we get out of life, how we grow and develop as a person, and what type of atmosphere we have in our home.
It takes some work to strengthen that self-control muscle, but it's well worth the effort.
For the next few days I'd like to share a sermon my husband preached about having self-control. It's too long for one post so I am breaking it into a few shorter ones. I'm also editing it slightly to fit into this blogging format.
I hope you enjoy it.
Self-Control (Part One)
I often hear and read things like,
“If you’re the middle child, you are more likely to do this.”
“If you live in such and such an area, you are more likely to do this.”
“If you have a certain kind of diet, you are more likely to do this.”
“If you are in this age bracket, you are more likely to do this.”
And people are always trying to trick themselves into acting a certain way: “Use this type of dinner plate and you are more likely to eat less.”
You know, all that’s fine and good, but there’s this little thing called “free-choice” that I really believe in, and another called “self-control.”
Yes, our environment can play a part and we all have propensities and proclivities and predispositions toward certain things, but that doesn’t mean we actually have to do them.
“Think about it. Why do you over eat, over spend and generally over-indulge? Does the devil make you do it? Are you a robot tethered to a remote control? No. You are a person. You have a mind of your own. You decide what to do. You choose it. It is all up to you, you, YOU. The sooner you accept this, the better”
So, let's talk about self-control.
Self-control seems pretty foreign in our cushy, indulgent 21st century America. Americans often think of self-control as missing out on something fun or enjoyable, and who wants that?
We like to feed our appetites and we like our ease and our comfort. We typically recoil at the thought of restraint, or of strenuous effort.
We often know what we should do, but we fail to make ourselves do it—like water and electricity, we take the path of least resistance.
And this is sad because, from what I’ve read, psychologists have found that having self-control is strongly associated with higher self-esteem, better interpersonal skills, and better emotional responses.
In just about every area of life, it is advantageous to exercise discipline and self-control. What we want to do and what pleases us isn’t always what’s best for us or those around us.
People usually fail at their goals in life because they lack the willingness to exercise self-control.
Really, in order to have anything worthwhile in life we need discipline and self-control to bring it about.
As I’m sure you know, self-control is an important New Testament concept and something Christians are to work on all their lives as they strive to be more like Christ.
We find self-control in Paul’s list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…”
We find it in Peter’s ladder of virtues in 2 Peter 1:
“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control…” (2 Pet. 1:5-7).
We find it in Paul’s list of qualities for an elder in Titus 1:
“For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled…”
We find a lack of self-control in Paul’s list of qualities found in the difficult times of the last days:
“For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control…” (2 Tim. 3:1-5).
And we find it in Acts 24 when Paul was before Felix:
“…as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, ‘Go away for the present, and when I find time, I will summon you’” (Acts 24:25).
Historically, we can see that Felix had a great lack of self-control.
He abused his position by taking bribes and making decisions that were self-serving.
It’s said that he considered himself capable of committing any crime and avoiding punishment because of his influence with the courts.
From what I’ve read, he had three wives and had stolen his wife, Drusilla, from another man.
And so you might say Paul held up the mirror to Felix and showed him what was wrong in his life and what he needed to do to correct it.
That may be what we need today.
In the coming days we will answer three questions:
1. What is self-control?
2. In what areas are we to have self-control?
3. And how do we build self-control?
Stay tuned for part two . . .