Self Control or Controlling Yourself
The idea of self-control has always been interesting to me. I've heard it referred to as restraint, willpower, and discipline. It's often accompanied by praise, "wow, I wish I had her self-control to be able to resist dessert!" It's something that many people strive for while others deem it to be too difficult to obtain.
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, so it must be good for us, right? Yes, as long as it is Godly self-control and not controlling ones self. What's the difference?
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit or evidence that the Holy Spirit is working in your life. You don't magically wake up one day with it just like when you plant an apple seed you don't wake up the next morning to a fully grown apple tree bearing fruit. It is something that develops or grows overtime.
1 Corinthians 10:13 gives a great example of how self-control develops:
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
You develop self-control, or the ability to resist temptation, by turning to God to teach you how. It's something you learn and continue to learn and improve upon as you endure through the trials and temptations that life inevitably brings.
Hear our entire conversation on self-control:
If self-control is relying on God to help you resist temptation, controlling yourself is removing God from the equation. You are in control of yourself. Your success is 100% reliant upon your shoulders. You essentially become God of your life.
What's frightening is that many Christians control themselves believing that they are doing what the Bible has told them to do. I know, I was one. I tried to be perfect, I held myself to extremely high standards, I even went so far as to punish myself when I fell short. Did you notice the common word in there? I.
The truth is I completely denied myself the joy of grace when I shouldered all of the responsibility. Am I saying we're not responsible for our own actions? No. But I am saying that we do not have to shoulder it alone. When you try to do it in your own strength you miss out on tapping into the power of the Holy Spirit.
So, where are you? Are you struggling with self-control and need to submit more to the Holy Spirit's gentle guidance? Are you trying to control it all and finding yourself discouraged? Maybe you're avoiding it altogether because self-control keeps you from enjoying somethings you know you're probably not supposed to. My prayer is that you find the joy that comes with God's grace and the freedom that comes from walking with the Holy Spirit.