“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Proverbs 25:28).
Grace and peace be unto you.
Self-control is defined as the ability to regulate our desires and emotions. When we receive salvation, God immediately bestows on us the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), who then gives us self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). As we mature in Christ, we become more proficient in regulating our desires and emotions. Exercising self-control is important because it helps us achieve our divine purpose. Scripture says, “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
The story is told that King David lusted after Bathsheba and then slept with her. She became pregnant and David had her husband killed to hide the fact that he fathered her child. God was displeased and punished him. The consequences included the death of three of his sons, one of whom was conceived from the adulterous relationship (2 Samuel 11-18). David did not exercise self-control, hence he disobeyed God’s Word and stepped out of God’s plan. However, through the consequences, he learned the wisdom and importance of exercising self-control.
We developed self-control through trials and temptations. As such, God allows them in our lives. The reality is that we always have a choice to resist and maintain self-control or give in and lose self-control. Nevertheless, the comforting thought is that no matter how appealing the temptation or difficult the trial, we have the power to maintain self-control. Scripture says, “God will not allow you to be tempted beyond your ability…” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Have you noticed that you are often tempted by situations or things that appeal to you? For example, if you do not drink alcohol, Satan will not tempt you with it. On the other hand, if your besetting sin is envy, he will present situations that will stimulate that desire. Since the desires that we embrace are used to tempt us, curtailing them will help us to overcome temptation and maintain self-control. Six ways to practice self-control are:
1. Know your desires and besetting sins. You can do an introspection, ask the Holy Spirit or a close friend to help you identify them.
2. Commit your desires and weaknesses to Christ and trust him to help you control them.
3. Avoid situations that will encourage you to yield to these desires, for example, avoid the bar or other places where liquor is sold if you have the tendency to consume too much alcohol.
4. Learn to be happy and satisfied where you are. If your circumstances are unfavorable and you cannot change them, change your perspective. You can achieve this by identifying the good things happening in your life, and in the world, and giving God thanks.
5. Practice praying frequently.
6. Utilize your time wisely, “The devil finds work for idle hands.”