None of us are exempt from falling into temptation. Everyone struggles with willpower and self-discipline at some point. At any moment, we could be seconds away from eating another slice of high calorie chocolate cake, or swiping our credit card for nonessential items, or splurging on yet another pair of shoes that we really do not need.
I have had moments where I told myself that I was not going to spend anything other than the funds I have available for spending, but then minutes later I am swiping my credit card for a purchase I could have very well done without. (True confession, honestly most of the time it is for food.) When it comes to that little piece of plastic, I know I lack self-discipline at times. Am I alone? Surely I am not.
It is so easy to see a variety of things advertised and get lured into wanting them. We have a knack for overriding the voice that tells us not to do it and we just do it anyway. Later, when the consequences of that choice hit us, we will find ourselves regretting it.
Let’s face it, it takes self-control to do everything we do in life –parenting our kids, honoring our marriages, doing our jobs, managing our finances, controlling our food consumption, or maintaining healthy habits. In order not to scream at our spouses or children, in order not to give our boss a piece of our minds, in order not to go into debt, or in order to not overeat or skip the gym, we must have self-control. It is important to remind ourselves daily that the choices we make today will affect our tomorrow because for every action there is a reaction and for every decision there is a consequence.
In our humanity, we all love to get our own way, say whatever we feel, and boldly act out. Yet for those of us who are attempting to walk with Christ, the Spirit reminds us that we must operate in self-control. It is so important for us to seek God in everything we do and follow His instructions in the Scriptures. We must acknowledge God, allow Him to direct us and order our steps. If we actively sought God’s counsel first, we would not be so undisciplined.
Self-control is so important that the Bible tells us in Galatians 5:22-23 that it is one of nine spiritual fruits we can manifest:
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! NLT
Oh, it is not easy, but it is doable! So how can an individual gain self-control?
God desires for us to ask for and use wisdom. The wisdom of God allows us to be a true example of Christ and possess self-control. With godly self-control, we can do good even when we do not want to. We can show love even when we do not want to. We can bite our tongue even when we do not want to. We can cut up that credit card even when we do not want to. We can turn away from that second slice of pie even when we do not want to. I am sure Jesus did not want to be nice to those who were mean to Him, yet He did. He remained disciplined and pleased His Father and that is what we are required to do. We must pray to God to strengthen us, to give us the power and ability to withstand temptation and the mind to operate in wisdom and authority over ourselves.
In the book of Proverbs, we are taught about wisdom. In fact, this book of the Bible contains great detail and many illustrations regarding wisdom. For instance, it teaches us that we should be wise like the ant (Proverbs 6:6-8). Now, think about the ant for a moment. What if the ant was not disciplined? What if it decided during one harvest time not to gather food for the upcoming winter and it just lounged around doing nothing? Logic tells us the ant would not survive.
But isn’t that what some of us do? Because we lack self-control, we refuse to do the things we know we need to do, and yet we somehow expect things to turnout good. Sounds crazy, right? Go one step further, considering the fruits of the Spirit and the Ten Commandments, how often are we failing due to a lack of self-control?
Our “self” is definitely our own worst enemy. In the past, I have been guilty of getting myself into so many messy situations by refusing to stop, to shut up, to ask for help, to say no, or just to simply walk away. By this, I mean, I have gone to places knowing I shouldn’t, said things that I regretted later, done things that could have gotten me in deep trouble, and said yes to things when I should have said no. All because I lacked self-discipline. Had I shown some self-control, I could have avoided those messy situations and bad choices that ultimately caused me so much pain in my life.
Today, I still pray to God to help me bridle my tongue, to help me walk out of the store with only what I need, and to stay away from gossip and people who are quick to stir up wrath.
How has leaning into God for more self-control helped me? One area is profanity. I once spoke with harsh foul words. Now, I can hardly stand being around anyone who speaks foul language. I thank God for this change. Now, do I get upset sometimes and think of some foul words that I could say to set someone straight? Absolutely, but I choose not to verbalize them. Now when I hear someone else speaking profanity, it lets me know that they are operating from a place in which they have no self-control. Thankfully, I have overcome that problem, but do not get me wrong, I have weaknesses in other areas that I am still working on.
Today especially, many people have decided to just do what they like, when and how they want to, with no regard for others. Sad to say, but these people have no self-discipline. People have come to a point that they feel entitled to their bad attitudes, negative remarks, unwise spending, bad eating habits, or out of control behavior. But be warned, the Bible teaches we will all have to give an account of our actions one day (Ecclesiastes 12:14, Matthew 12:36).
Displaying self-control is about making a choice. We must choose to do what is right and not just what feels right at the moment. Funny how we do not really notice our wrongs and how bad they are until God comes in and cleans us up with His Holy Spirit, allowing us to finally see ourselves through His eyes. This is when we began to understand the importance of self-discipline.
A person with true self-control knows that they should not do whatever they please or whatever feels right to them at that time but should first consider the instructions of the Lord. The Bible tells us:
There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12 NKJV
Dr. Maya Angelou once said: “To know better is to do better.” Once we know what to do, we should practice doing what is right, no matter how hard or challenging it is for us.
Blessings to you,
Melody is the founder of M.O.R.E. – Mothers Overcoming Real-life Experiences. You can follow her at https://www.facebook.com/groups/wearemore2gether/ on Facebook or @moreofmelody on Instagram.
Check out her contribution to this brand-new book: 20 Beautiful Women: 20 More Stories that will Heal Your Soul, Ignite Your Passion, and Inspire Your Divine Purpose – Melody Hansley. Available at amazon.com.
All scripture taken from the NLT and the NKJV.
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.