She came to me desiring help with depression. One of the first projects I gave her was to go to bed early enough so that she could get up in the morning to have time with the Lord before the children were up. She agreed to the homework, but clearly told me that she didn’t have self-control, that she liked to stay up at night, and that she didn’t get up in the morning.
The next week, she reported having gone to bed and gotten up on time for a whole week. She was very pleased with herself. She had also had Bible reading and prayer each morning. What about the depression? I asked. “Oh, it was a great week. The depression really wasn’t an issue.”
Who Has Self-Control?
Have you thought about self-control? What value does it hold in your life? Do you esteem it or reject it? Have you noticed that self-control is sometimes made fun of, mocked, and put down? Or some will say that others can have self control but they can’t.
In our society, though, athletes are admired. Doesn’t it take self-control for them to achieve the physical prowess that makes them skilled? People who have built successful businesses are also admired. Some even study those individuals’ lives in order to dissect what qualities they have that help them in their achievements. Usually self-control is at or near the top of those lists. What about the student who receives academic accolades? Again self-control is integral to that success.
Did you know that self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit? “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). Doesn’t that mean it is available to everyone who is saved?
Ten years ago, I was drinking several sodas a day. I justified myself by saying I had no self-control when it came to resisting a Pepsi. Even so, at the end of a day of drinking Pepsi (which was every day), I would guiltily think particularly about wasted calories and some about wasted money and decide not to drink any more Pepsi. The next morning, though, I would find myself making excuses as to why “today” wasn’t a good day to break my Pepsi habit.
On December 31st 2006, I drank my last Pepsi. Do I regret giving up Pepsi? Not a chance! Do I live anymore with guilt because I drink Pepsi? No! I am free. I often thank and praise the Lord for the freedom from bondage to Pepsi and the guilt that went with it. Freedom is a delightful thing!
Drinking Pepsi was following the flesh for me, but stopping it was walking in the Spirit. Which life do you think has fewer regrets and less guilt—life in the flesh or life in the Spirit?
Self-Control Brings Blessings
There are struggles moms come to us with for which they want help. Often self-control is the solution—a simple word but difficult implementation. For example, some have trouble with time management or there are moms who ask for help with depression or anger.
Steve and I have watched moms get hold of the simple concept of going to bed and getting up at a set time. Initially they say can’t do that because they lack self-control, but they are so miserable with their current life that they say they will do anything for change. They make a commitment to do it for a month.
Those who follow through on that commitment are excited. They have chosen self-control when they thought they had none. They discover the key to their time management problems. They are elated not only with the changes that happen as a result of going to bed and getting up at the designated time but also with the realization that they do, after all, have self-control.
Those who don’t live out their bedtime and wake-up time commitment have excuses and continue in the same discouragement with which they started. Similar women, similar circumstances, similar needs, similar desires but a significant difference—one chooses self-control, the other doesn’t.
The Path of Self-Control
Each of us has those kinds of choices before us each day. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
When I was tempted to drink a Pepsi, or a mom is tempted to stay in bed when the alarm goes off, or you are tempted by something the Lord is calling you to exercise self-control concerning, Scripture tells us that God has provided a way of escape. Is it possible, though, that we don’t want to take the way of escape, that we enjoy aspects of what we are doing, that we would rather follow the flesh?
“That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:4-6). After giving up Pepsi, I experienced peace in my heart whereas before there was conflict and guilt. I would so much rather walk after the Spirit than after the flesh. What about you?
Would you tell me that you don’t have self-control, that you have tried before and failed? Then could I remind you of Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Are you praying and asking God for His strength? Do you have Scripture memorized to quote to yourself? Are you willing to deny your flesh? I am no spiritual giant. I am no different that you. However, I do strive to daily learn more and more to rely on the Holy Spirit and God’s Word, and the joy and peace that brings. If I can have self-control through Christ Who strengthens me, you can too!
Counting the Cost
What is God calling you to have self-control concerning? Your battle might not be with unhealthy food or wasting time, but whatever it is, I expect you are aware of it. I am sure that self-control will bring you peace you long for–and a multitude of other benefits along with it.
The peace would be enough for me, but I could not help but do some calculations as I closed this article. Based on drinking 24 ounces of Pepsi a day (and I could easily drink much more than that some days!) for ten years, I didn’t consume 87,600 calories, which would convert to 25 pounds of weight that I didn’t gain, and we saved about $1662. I have no regrets. I would like to encourage you in a life of self-control without regrets as well.
Trusting in Jesus,