Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bible Thoughts: The Value of Self-Control

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

I have read this passage of scripture many times over the years. As a child, I often heard it quoted during church services or at Bible studies, and much has been said about love, joy, and peace. In recent months, it has left a greater impression on me, especially the words "self-control". In the King James version, the word used here is "temperance", but I think the most people know about temperance are historical references to "temperance leagues" during the Prohibition time of U.S. history.

Let's look at more references to it in the Scriptures.

2 Peter 1:5-6 NCV your best to add these things to your lives: to your faith, add goodness; and to your goodness, add knowledge; 6 and to your knowledge, add self-control; and to your self-control, add patience...
Titus 1:8 NKJV For a bishop must be...hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled,

There is a price to pay whenever we as believers choose to walk outside of the guidelines God has given us to act upon. (1) The process of "sewing and reaping" of which the apostle Paul spoke (2) is just as applicable in the negative as it is in the positive. If we believe we can "have what we say" and Christ will grant it, then in reverse we will also receive the affects of our unbelief and our bad behaviors.

True self-control applies to our speech, our actions, and our thoughts. James 1:6 speaks of "bridling" the tongue. This means we do not say everything we feel like saying. If your mother used to tell you to "zip your lip" and force you to go and apologize, then I have news for you, those same rules still apply to your life as an adult! And self-control also applies to our actions. It is how we behave both in public as well as in private, when we think no one is watching. You cannot do everything your body wants to do! Lastly, it applies to our thought-life as well. I cannot spend my days meditating, rehearsing over and over, everything that passes through my head. (3) Proverbs 23:7 states, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." If I spend my days thinking on fear, how afraid I am of an event, a person, or an idea, then fear is what I will become.

I once heard a popular preacher say, "There is no such thing as an empty mind," and that phrase has really helped me over the years. First of all, it takes away the idea that I should expect to get to a point where I never think anything. There will never be a time when some thought is not roaming through my brain. But if I find I am having troubles in a certain area of my life, take the fear I used as an example already, if I find I am terribly afraid all the time, then I have to realize part of the cause comes from time I have spent thinking about fear, or we'd say "worrying". You remember, it's all those "what ifs"?

What if I fail?
What if I can't make it?
What if he or she does that again?

Worry is simply thinking on some unhappy thought over and over and over again until it becomes more real to you than any other thing. Worry is caused by a lack of self-control over your thought life.

Jesus is our example of self-control. Think of what he was knowingly facing. In the garden, he knew of his pending death, yet he said, "Not my will, but thine, be done." (4) In front of Pilate, he "answered nothing". (5) Ask yourself, what would we have done if that had been us? Jesus knew the will of the Father, yet despite the pressure of death on the cross, He obeyed.

If there is no such thing as an "empty mind", that means we must replace our incorrect thoughts with correct ones. Instead of spending our time in worry, we should spend it thinking on scriptures about peace and safety. Put simply, find a scripture to stand on and stand there! (6) Romans 8:6 says, "For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." I strive every day for my mind to become so full of God that that is all that is in me. The more of Christ I have in me, the less my flesh and my feelings will control my actions, and the easier self-control will become. For walking in self-control brings peace.

1 Peter 1:13 NKJV Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

(1) 2 Timothy 3:1-3; 1 Corinthians 7:5,7; 1 Timothy 2:15
(2) Galatians 6:7
(3) 1 Corinthians 13:5 "thinketh no evil"
(4) Luke 22:42
(5) Matthew 26:62-63 "Jesus held his p'eace."; Matthew 27:12-14 "...he answered nothing"
(6) Ephesians 6:13-14 "Stand therefore

Suzanne Williams Photography

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

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