Self-Control: Do You Have It? Part One

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5: 22, 23

Self-control is the ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behavior in the face of temptations and impulses. Doing so is a challenge at best.

“There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self,” so said Benjamin Franklin. The virtue of self-control begins with knowing ourselves. It is a challenge and can be frightening, so frightening that one has said, “If I really got to know myself I likely would be frightened and run away.”

A starting point for self-control is getting to know ourselves. There is an ancient Greek aphorism “know thyself” inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, Greece indicating its importance.       

Great voices such as Socrates have spoken of the need of self-control: “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.”

Think about yourself for a moment. Satan knows you. He is no less a strategist than a military general. Both always look for the weakest points on which to focus their attack. Are you aware of weak points in your spiritual, moral, and ethical life?” Identify them for yourself.

In Hebrew 12: 1 we are exhorted to “…lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us….” What snares do you need to lay aside?

At what point or points are you likely to be most vulnerable? Identify them.

Evaluate the following approach. Backtrack from a point at which you have shown weakness, that is, have demonstrated the lack of self control. As a starter consider a point of moral failure. Now think back to the starting point where you began your journey to that end. What was the first step to that end? Got it? Now  engage in an honest evaluation. What kind of things lead to you yielding to the sin which so easily ensnared you?

Post a keep off sign: “If you are not going in the house stay off the porch.”

Or, if you prefer, “If you are not going on the flight don’t get on the plane.”

Avoid things which you know will lead to a wrong attitude or conduct. Reflect now, various terms for self-control, include discipline, determination, grit, willpower, and fortitude. Self-control is the ability to control behaviors, to avoid temptations, and achieve goals, the ability to delay gratification and resist unwanted behaviors or urges.

Here is the secret. You can’t do it alone. The above text refers to self-control as one of the fruits of the Spirit. His help is needed. Reliance on the spiritual enabling grace provided by the Spirit makes self-control possible. Acknowledge your need for His help. Share your need for His help when you are first inclined to get on the porch or the plane. Do so at the first impulse. Don’t plan to fail, but even if you do, resume your commitment with even greater discipline, determination, grit, willpower, and fortitude. 

Pause now and determine your lifelong strategy.