SELF-CONTROL

Scripture Reading: I Thessalonians 4:1-8

“That each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.” (I Thessalonians 4:4,5)

So much heartache and disappointment could be avoided if we learned how to control ourselves. We bring much trouble upon us when we fail to control our bodies, tongues and actions. We say things that we later regret; we make bad choices that bring disappointment and trouble upon us; and we abuse our bodies which can lead to long term health issues. We hurt others and we hurt ourselves by failing to exercise self-control.

The immediate context of these verses is about exercising self-control over our lustful passions. Many have fallen into sinful patterns because they failed to exercise self-control. Some have lost their marriages, their jobs, and their friends because of reckless choices. Lust is a very powerful force at work in us. We must learn how to control it.

When we fail to exercise self-control, we can hurt others with our words. We need to learn how to control our tongues — “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell” (James 3:6). How often have we said hurtful things to people that we later regret?

In order for us to learn how to control our bodies, we must first realize that self-control is one of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23). This means that self-control is possible as we yield to the Spirit’s presence and power in our lives. We cannot ultimately achieve self-control in our own strength. But we have the Spirit of God dwelling in us, and as we yield more and more to His control, we will be able to experience all the fruit of the Spirit.

Two things are vitally important toward learning self-control. The first is the presence of the Spirit in our lives. He produces spiritual fruit as we yield ourselves to His control over us. Yielding to His control must be intentional and ongoing. Second, we must love Jesus more than we love ourselves. When we love Him, we will desire to please Him by obeying what He says to us. He wants us to have control over our bodies. If I love myself more, I will yield to the lustful passions that smolder within me. But if I love Jesus more, I will yield to His will for my life.

If you are trying really hard to have self-control in your own strength, you will fail time and time again. But if we love Jesus and if we yield to the presence and power of His Spirit within us, we can begin to exercise self-control.

Lord Jesus, I so often fail to exercise self-control. I fail You and I fail myself and others when I do not control my actions, words, and attitudes. Forgive me and grant me Your strength and power to resist lust, selfishness, and self-gratification. I cannot do this in my own strength, but I can do all things through You who strengthen me.

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