I am beating myself up this morning because I caved and got a strawberry milkshake at Chick-Fila last night. That little voice is saying, kind of loudly, “Who are you to write about self-control?”
Shut it, Devil.
We are all works in progress. Just because we have not mastered something does not mean we haven’t seen growth (like in our midsection. Stop. Just stop.).
Self-control is the last virtue listed as a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23.
There are so many things we need help with, and self-control is definitely at the top of the list! For some of us, we might need better self-control with food, alcohol, spending, relationship choices, giving into gossip, or how we react and respond to difficult circumstances (or maybe difficult people!). I’m sure there’s some I haven’t thought of, but you know what you struggle with.
Let’s get the junk out of the way first. If it’s sin we don’t need to keep it at a “controlled” level. We need to eliminate it completely. There may still be temptation, but if it’s not accessible it’s harder to do. God had me quit my job in 2017 to walk away from an unhealthy relationship. Sometimes you just need to cut ties. Take whatever steps you need to get free.
However, some things are not so black and white. There are plenty of good things we can abuse (eating, drinking, talking, sex, etc), but they are not sin if we choose to practice self-control and stay within God’s healthy boundaries. Keyword: if.
So how do we develop self-control? Do we just try harder? Find that pesky willpower we misplaced awhile ago? Set goals and just do it? Read amazing books like Atomic Habits and vow to change all our routines?
Those things may work for a little while, but for me, at least, the weaknesses will creep back in if I’m not being vigilant. Little by little, like untended weeds in a garden, the bad habits take back over.
We need that guy…what’s his name again…oh yeah. The Holy Spirit.
God doesn’t help those who help themselves. He helps people who admit they can’t do it on their own and ask for his help!
So where do we start? “God, help me stop eating like it’s my last meal!” “Jesus, help me stick to two drinks tonight!” “Lord, help me not to overspend this month!”
These are all fine, but what if we started at the root and asked the Holy Spirit to change our mind and our desires where we lack self-control? What if God helped us to view our sin as he does? Not just an annoyance, but as something that holds us back from the freedom he has for us?
Let’s be in God’s word so we can know what his will is for our lives, and let’s ask for his heart and his supernatural strength to live with self-control.
I think there is more victory to be had than we can imagine, if we’ll only stay close to him.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of feeling defeated.