Have you ever stopped to think about what difference self-control could make in your life?
Why does self-control seem so difficult?
And why, in some aspects of life, does it almost seem like a bad thing?
If you’ve ever memorized the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, you know self-control rounds out the list:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
So, as a fruit of the Spirit, self-control is a good thing – as good as love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness.
But why does it have to be so very difficult?
When you’re talking about food, using self-control in your dietary choices can seem really restrictive at times.
Why shouldn’t I eat another donut right now? But what if I want a second – or third – helping of dinner?
Yet when it comes to eating and drinking, self-control is essential. We’ve all seen the damage of meal choices that lack self-control, and it looks a lot like obesity, diabetes, or alcoholism.
When you’re talking about work, using self-control is essential to your integrity.
Working hard, being timely, and trustworthy all are benefits that naturally come with being a self-controlled employee.
If you lack self-control in your workplace, all of those strengths are missing – and there’s a good chance you’ll end up dealing with the consequences.
When you’re talking about marriage, self-control is huge.
Especially when it comes to faithfulness, self-control is a major aspect of marriage.
Without it, you end up dealing with major problems like infidelity or an addiction to pornography.
When you’re talking about parenting, self-control looks a lot like being diligent in being a parent.
And a lack of self-control in parenting manifests itself in children who are out of control.
When you’re talking about finances, self-control looks like steps toward financial freedom.
You’re getting yourself out from the burden of debt. You’re not spending through everything you have – and don’t have – on frivolous purchases. You’re wisely weighing what you really need to purchase and what you’d only like to splurge on.
Without financial self-control, debt spirals out of hand and begins to consume your life.
And when you’re talking about homemaking, self-control looks like a house that is under control.
It runs fairly smoothly with systems. Cleaning chores don’t take an unbelievably long time. There are meal and homemaking plans in place.
Without any self-control, you have a hot mess on your hands – and it’s obvious. You can see the clutter and piles. It may look and feel like you’re drowning in a mess.
When you’re struggling with self-control
It’s likely your self-control is a work in progress. Sometimes you may experience a lot of self-control. Other times your spirit is willing but your flesh is weak. You may be really self-controlled in a few areas and out of control in others.
Personally, I can tell right away where I’m excelling in self-control and where I’m not. When I’m intentionally trying to live with more self-control, I feel better. I eat better. I get more sleep. I exercise regularly. My home looks better. My relationships are fulfilling. I feel on top of everything.
And when I’m feeling out of control, I can tell right away:
- I don’t watch what I eat or drink so carefully, and end up feeling cruddy.
- I skip exercising and feel sluggish.
- I stay up and sleep in late and feel tired.
- I care less if I’m stuck in a sin cycle.
- I get annoyed easily.
- I’m crabby toward my family.
- I obsess about feeling so cruddy about life in general.
- And my house turns into a WRECK. It looks as scattered and out of control as I feel.
It’s a completely ugly cycle.
The truth is, self-control is difficult, because it doesn’t come naturally.
As a fruit of the Spirit, it’s something we can experience if and when we’re walking through the Spirit. Without Him, we can’t thrive when it comes to self-control.
It’s impossible to do it on our own.
We may have bouts of self-controlled moments, but, like everything in life, to thrive with a self-controlled life we need the Lord.
If we try it on our own, we’ll mess it up. It’s only natural.
By asking Him each day to fill us with His Spirit, and yielding to His leading, we can experience the sweet fruit that He alone can give. That makes all the difference when it comes to a life of self-control.
In your daily life, what difference does self-control make? When you’re living a life that’s not self-controlled, what consequences have you had to face?
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