Self-control is the ability to hold back, the ability not to react with words, or actions, or emotions. It is the ability to have a restraint of ourselves. It is part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. We live in a world where we want things here and now. We live in a world where things are available to us that necessitate us to discern what is good and what is not. We live in a world where people are self-centered and think of themselves most time. We live in a world that is growing cold by the day.
Things can happen in our lives and people can do and say things that we deem unfair, immoral, or unjust. During such times, it is easy to lash out, it is easy to ‘speak our mind’, it is easy to do to them as they did to us, it is easy to conform to the patterns of the world. But self-control goes against that, it goes against that desire to avenge, it goes against the desire to act in the flesh. It helps us to step back, revisit things, pray, and seek the intervention of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Some people say as long as it is lawful they can go ahead and do it or say it. Yet, not everything is edifying, not everything needs to be said, not everything needs to be done. Something may be lawful yet it may cause destruction to our souls, something may be lawful for the world yet it may go against God’s Law.
We may lie to ourselves that we can treat others the way we want without consequences, we may lie to ourselves that we can do anything to others without consequences, we may even lie to ourselves that we can do anything we want with our lives without any consequences. Yet, that is not so. There are always consequences that follow our words and actions. Such may affect us whether directly or indirectly, or may affect others whether directly or indirectly.
We tend to forget that we are in the world but not of the world. Our life here on earth is a gift from God that can be taken away from us any minute, we do not even own our lives. We are here on earth as passers-by. The choices we make here on earth have eternal consequences and will determine where we end up after leaving this earth.
The ability to hold back is an important quality to have; the ability not to engage in fleeting pleasures of the world, the ability to do good to those who have hurt us, the ability to return good where evil was done, the ability to speak with love and kindness. It is a strength rather than a weakness. A person who does good in an evil world is a strong person, a person who loves the unlovable is a strong person, a person who blesses their enemy is a strong person. Yet, we are not capable of any good by our own strength, it is only God who empowers us. It is God who helps us not to lash out, it is God who helps us to love without expecting anything in return, it is God who empowers us not to go after those people who have hurt us deeply. It is God who empowers us to let go.
Self-control necessitates surrender. It involves getting rid of any desire to have things our way and submitting to God’s sovereign will. It involves letting go and letting God take over. It does not mean we accept abuse, misuse, mistreatment, immorality, or injustice from others; it means voicing our opinions and yet at the same time doing it in a way that honors God. It means we are submitted to God. It means we do not conform to the patterns of the world. It means we go to God first for instructions.
We seek God’s will and what He requires from us when we go through trials and hardships, we go to Him for instructions on how we are to walk through life, we go to Him for advice in every area of our lives. He tells us to entrust our activities to Him and our plans will be achieved.
The Bible tells us that the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. The Holy Spirit in us ministers to us the truths of God. With time as we spend time with God we mature and the fruit of the Spirit starts manifesting in our lives, part of which is self-control. In this world we come to realize we do not have control of much except ourselves. We can choose to do good in a cruel and crazy world. We cannot force other people to do or say something, they have free will to choose. When it comes to us though, we have a choice. We can choose to submit our lives to God and be in submission to His will.
Other people will be answerable for their actions, and we will be answerable for ours. We are to do everything in love.
Proverbs tells us that a person without self-control is like a city whose walls are broken through. Such a person opens up their life to the enemy. The enemy enters into such a person’s life and starts toying with them. Self-control helps us to be rooted and stable. The Bible advises us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
Only God’s Word saves us. A person without self-control appears ugly, unable to get hold of themselves; other people tend to keep away from such a person or they may take advantage of that person and then they run away. Lack of self-control is a symptom of deep-seated fear, fears that we are afraid to face, a sign of things within us that are not addressed, a search for the truth. In the frustration of the moment, in frustration due to failure to achieve something, in frustration due to unmet expectations from themselves and from other people; eventually, such people lose their cool.
Lack of self-control comes from an unsurrendered heart, a heart that is yet to find its way to God, a heart yet to rest in God.
We should pray for sobriety; the enemy is out there looking for someone to devour. The moment the enemy notices a person yet to be surrendered to God, he goes into that person’s life and causes confusion; he instills in such a person lies because that person is yet to know the truth that is only found in God. It is only in God that we can gain self-control; any other attempt apart from God will just be a mask put on to conceal what is lacking deep within us.
Only God can help us in the area of self-control. He sees us, He really does. He already knows what we are struggling with. We only have to involve Him in the struggles we face; it may be a struggle with love of money, with anger, with lust, with addictions, with over-indulgence in things that do not please Him; it can be anything. He is always willing to help us when and if we ask Him. He cannot override our will; we have to be willing to change, we have to be willing to ask for help, we have to be willing to invite Him into our lives.
2 Peter 1:3 tells us that God’s divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.
A life without God is out of control. We may deceive ourselves with wealth, pleasures, power, fame, and such things but if God is not first in our lives, everything we do becomes vain. Anything and everything outside God’s will is not worth it, it is vanity of all vanities. Only God gives meaning to life. Only God empowers us to live a controlled, disciplined, godly life.
Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. 2 Peter 1:4-9.
God’s Spirit gives us a sound mind.
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