Ahh – there is nothing that gets your attention like the word “self-control.” Cookies. Wine. Beer. Swearing. Gossip. There are temptations everywhere.
The bible gives you a great metaphor for what it looks like when you lose self-control.
“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self control” – Proverbs 25:28
Lately, I’ve gotten on the trend wagon and gave intermittent fasting a try. It’s taught me that I can do anything for 10-12 hours. This leads me down this path of thinking – I actually have a lot of self-control. Especially if I slow down and take a look at where God has changed me in my life.
Think about the things that you don’t do anymore, that you once had a problem with. Here are a few examples from my life.
I don’t get mad at people when I’m driving as much as I used to.
I don’t say non-constructive things to myself as much as I used to.
I don’t swear as much as I used to.
I don’t interrupt people as much as I used to.
Where has God changed you?
Through the ongoing refining process God has taught me these 5 secrets to maintaining self-control.
1) When you know better, you do better. When you can take a step back and see what you’re doing, that is powerful. Are you using a bad habit as a reward? Like food or alcohol? Then replace that reward with something healthy, like a walk or sending a note to a friend. There are many other healthy options.
“And to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance, and to perseverance, godliness.” – 2 Peter 1:6
2) Leverage the gifts of the spirit to protect yourself from temptations. God gives you these gifts. So pray, pray, and pray some more to ignite them.
“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” – Galatians 5:22-23
3) Seek God. Seek God in prayer. Seek God in His word. You need to do this to make wise decisions. The more you do this the more you can focus on what that looks like in your life.
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” – James 3:17
4) Ask for forgiveness. Humility helps you to accept failure. While you may be hanging your head in defeat that you gave into a temptation, remember God forgives our sins when we ask. He will guide you to do better next time.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9
5) Pray for and accept correction. God’s word has plenty to say about this.
“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.” – Proverbs 12:1
“Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise.” – Proverbs 15:31
“For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life.” – Proverbs 6:23
My prayer for you today is that you have a new perspective on self-control and that you have some tools to maintain self-control in the midst of temptation. In Jesus name, amen.