Self-control. What exactly is it? And is it even possible? I would venture to say that there are two ways of looking at self-control. One is the way of the world. The world would say something like: “It’s my life. I get to decide. I get to make my choices regarding what is best for me. I am in control.” I can think of several instances when my thoughts, emotions and actions all led me to realize that when I thought I was in control, I really wasn’t. I decided I wasn’t good enough to try out for that part in the play. I chose to yell at my kids because they deserved it. I decided to indulge in a gallon of ice cream because I had a rough day and I deserved it. The only problem was, the more I tried to control life, the more life seemed out of control. It wasn’t merely the notion that I was not good enough for the play, I wasn’t good enough for anything. I didn’t just yell at my kids because they deserved it, but because I was frustrated. I didn’t just indulge on a bad day, but I sought out things that would make me feel better regularly. Yet, thankfully, when I met Jesus, He showed me that there is another view of self-control. This view would say something like, “Lord, I am out of control in this area of my life, but I know that if I give it up to You, You will take control of my self.”
‘Self’ stuff can be a hidden crack in the foundation of our heart. Whether it manifests in low self-esteem, self-loathing, self-protection, or just plain selfishness, if we are out of control in our thoughts, emotions or actions then the crack forms and we must be wary of what weeds may grow as a result. To solidify the foundation of self-control in our lives, we must give control of ourselves to God. Jesus says in Matthew 16:25: “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” Perhaps He was giving us His definition of self-control –to have control of ourselves means to give up control of ourselves to our Creator. For the believer in Christ, self-control is really better described as self-controlled by God.
The song, I Can Just Be Me by Laura Story confirmed this truth in my heart. One verse says:
I’ve been living like an orphan, trying to belong here, but it’s just not my home. I’ve been holding on so tightly to all the things that I think that satisfy my soul But I’m letting go.
So, be my Father, my mighty Warrior. Be my King. ‘Cause I can be scattered, frail, and shattered Lord, I need You now to be my God so I can just be me
So, is God in control of your self? Are there areas of your life where you feel out of control?
Perhaps your thoughts are out of control at times. Philippians 4:8 advises: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Memorizing Scripture passages are a great way to give control of our thoughts over to God.
Perhaps your emotions are out of control. Jeremiah 17:9 says: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” If God is not in control of our hearts, then our hearts cannot be trusted. One way to replace the lies of our heart is to meditate on God’s Word daily so that we give Him the control of our flowing emotions.
Perhaps your actions need a little more control from God. Proverbs 3:5-6 states, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Enhancing our prayer life and asking God’s advice on every decision we make will give Him control of our actions.
As you go about your day, think about your foundation in Christ. Are there cracks caused by lack of self-control? What does God have to say to you regarding your thoughts, emotions or actions? Are you willing to let Him weed out your heart and seal up that crack?
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid,
which is Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:11