If we cannot exercise self control over what we see, hear, say or do, then we are a stringed puppet under someone else’s control.

Definition of self control by Merriam-Webster:
restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires

I am writing about the topic of self control because this is an area that I certainly struggle with every stinking day!! I don’t want the evil one to be controlling my actions or desires, but he sure knows exactly which buttons to push and when. I wish he didn’t know me so well!

We are tempted through our senses: sight, taste, hearing and touch. With sight, it’s what we look at – from eyes that linger too long on a beautiful woman/handsome man, to being jealous over what our neighbor has, to looking at pornography. With taste, its eating too much or the wrong foods. Since this relates to the mouth, it also means what comes out of it, like hurtful words or bad language. With hearing, its what we tend to listen to. Does it glorify God or lift you up, or does it put your thoughts in a less than holy place? Lastly, with touch, this relates to physical things and actions – like having an affair, stealing, physically hurting someone, or the sudden compulsion to flip off a bad driver.

All of these areas need constant self control, because if we don’t restrain ourselves, then we are being used and controlled by someone or something else. This leads to us being a very poor witness for our Lord. It could also lead to addictions.

“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.”
Proverbs 25:28

(a vulnerable and defenseless person against the enemy.)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control….Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
Galatians 5:22-24

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”
Galatians 5:16-17

This begs the question then: how do we overcome our fleshly desires and use self control?

Take today’s photo for example: a hornets’ nest in the trees. Now, as a child, we would quickly run towards it, find a big stick, and want to whack at it like a piñata at a birthday party! But, as an adult, we have learned that doing so would result in severe consequences. Wasps would come out of there and attack by the hundreds! Our impulse to knock down the nest is (hopefully) now overcome by wisdom because we have gained knowledge with age and experience. As a result, we use self control and choose to leave it alone.

Our conquering certain urges cannot be done on our own. We are not strong enough. To use and maintain self control, we must first remember that we have one superb resource: the Holy Spirit.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness…”
Romans 8:26a

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”
2 Timothy 1:7

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful…But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
1 Corinthians 10:13

What steps can we take to just say no, or to get off our butt, or to change our mind and make the better choice?
a. Ask yourself if this is something that would please the Lord.
b. Count to 10 while keeping your mouth shut.
c. Turn your head and walk the opposite direction.
d. Ask yourself if your family found out, would you be embarrassed or feel guilty?
e. Consider the consequences of this decision.
f. Remember that you are in training for a far greater eternal prize than what might be temporarily in front of you.
g. PRAY for discernment and strength!
h. Recognize that the evil one is just trying to push your buttons!! DO NOT let him win!!

Additionally, if someone you know causes you to lower your guard, thus weakening your resolve and self control, then distance yourself from them.
“Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come.”
Luke 17:1a

Relish one victory at a time, one day at a time!!!
In so doing, the next one will be even sweeter, and you will become stronger in exercising self control.

“For the grace of God has appeared…, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age…”
Titus 2:11a,12

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance…”
2 Peter 1:3-6

Why is self control so important?

This fruit of the Spirit is critical because we are children of GOD (with free will), not of our common enemy who is desperate to pull our strings.

For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
2 Corinthians 6:16b-17a

Food for thought: “Educate your children to self-control, to the habit of holding passion and prejudice and evil tendencies subject to an upright and reasoning will, and you have done much to abolish misery from their future and crimes from society.” – Benjamin Franklin

Fun facts: The Bald-Faced Hornet builds its nest out of chewed wood mixed with their saliva, giving it a papery texture. Even after the time it takes to create their home, the football-shaped nest is only for one season.

Photo by: Kari Wiseman – Hornets’ nest