According to Dictionary.com the definition of self-control is: “control or restraint of oneself or one’s actions, feelings, etc.” That same source says the definition of self-discipline is: “discipline and training of oneself, usually for improvement.”
One of the devotionals from that book I mentioned last week that was given out by my church for the first 21 days of the year, addressed the topic of self-control. I have been thinking about that for about a week now. The scripture that the author based it on was Proverbs 25:28. I believe that the way it reads in The Message translation makes it more relatable for us today – “A person without self-control is like a house with its doors and windows knocked out.”
Another scripture she referenced was 1 Corinthians 6:12, which I will also quote from The Message: “Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims.”
The reason I quoted the definition of self-discipline above along with self-control is that it seems to me that if we are not strong enough within ourselves to train ourselves for improvement (self-discipline), that we will not be strong enough to control or restrain ourselves when it comes to our actions and feelings (self-control) – and are those not two things that get us into the most “trouble”?
I do not want to go through my life like a house with no windows or doors – allowing anything and everything the opportunity to enter! Therefore, I need to first practice self-discipline and then self-control with what I allow to enter my mind and my heart, so that I do not become a slave to my every whim.
Technically, I could watch any TV show or movie and read any kind of book. But are they good for me? Uplifting, encouraging, moral, etc.? I could go out and participate in all kinds of activities that are not illegal – but are they good for me? Are they good for my spiritual walk with God? If Jesus were sitting or walking with me, would I want Him to see what I was watching, reading, doing? Oops!!!
So, if I determine I want to go shopping and spend money on things I do not really need – should I? I could, it is not illegal or immoral. But could I, by using self-control save that money for a rainy day or donate it to someone or some organization that could use it to help others? If I am trying to lose weight but decide to splurge eating food that is not healthy for me and not helpful with my weight loss program – should I? I could, again, it is not illegal or immoral. But, will it be helpful to my end goal of becoming a healthier person? If I decide to watch or read things that are morally against what I would ever personally do – should I? I believe that allowing those kinds of things into our hearts and minds could possibly at some point in time tempt us to justify doing things we would never do otherwise. They may not be illegal, but could be immoral. The opposite of self-control is self-indulgence. Doing those things that are best left alone is self-indulgence.
We all have weaknesses in our lives in one or more areas – some of us in many areas. But, we need to strive to have self-discipline, determining that we truly do want to improve – using our self-control to avoid participating in areas that we should not.
The most wonderful thing of all is that we do not have to fight these battles on our own. We are not left alone to struggle with our weaknesses. Hebrews 4:15-16 (ERV) says this: “Jesus, our high priest, is able to understand our weaknesses. When Jesus lived on earth, he was tempted in every way. He was tempted in the same ways we are tempted, but he never sinned. With Jesus as our high priest, we can feel free to come before God’s throne where there is grace. There we receive mercy and kindness to help us when we need it.” [Emphasis mine]
The God of our universe – THE Creator of the world – is always there for us. He does not want to see us flounder around, battling with our weaknesses. He wants to help us. But we must never forget that He will not intrude in our lives – He simply wants us to seek Him and the help that He can give us. It is up to us.
Use some self-discipline to spend time with Him each day and do not hesitate to ask for the help that you need so that you can be strong enough to do what you should and strong enough to resist doing what you should not – exhibiting the great quality of self-control.
“And now just as you trusted Christ to save you, trust him, too, for each day’s problems; live in vital union with him. Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him. See that you go on growing in the Lord, and become strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with joy and thanksgiving for all he has done.” Colossians 2:6-7 (TLB)
Written by Karran Martin -January 26, 2023