Self-Control. In the King James Version on the Bible this is known as temperance. The dictionary defines temperance as moderation in thought, feeling, or action; restraint. Self-control can mean many things to many people. For one person, self-control can be applied to too much TV viewing. To some people, it's too much computer gaming. And for other people, it can be more serious, like alcohol abuse or substance abuse. Self-control can also be applied to mean some one's temper, or the urge to gossip about other people. All of these things in people's lives can benefit from the application of temperance. For myself (which I know I've stated over and over) shopping is my downfall. I can be out shopping for one thing, and before I know it, I've circled the mall and amassed an armful of "stuff." Temperance is one thing that I have been earnestly praying for more of. It's so easy to justify... well, Abigail needs this, or Zander would like this, or it's been so long since I treated myself to this...
I am so grateful to have the Holy Spirit with me when I am on a shopping excursion. I clearly can't avoid it entirely. We still have needs and necessities, and I still have to go to a store to buy them. But I can pray before I go, and pray that the Spirit will help me be wise with my dollars. And as I'm walking around being mesmerized by this or that, and picking up more than just the necessary item, I feel uneasy. I look at the armful of stuff and I know that I should put it all back. Thank you Holy Spirit for the prompting, and it all gets put back, and I walk out with the necessary item. Self-Control is not something that happens over time, let me tell you. For me, it's taken about...10 years or so. From the day I got my first credit card and had keys to a car, shopping has been a vice for me.
Let's see what the Bible says about self-control.
"Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control." Proverbs 25:28
"Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." 1 Corinthians 7:5
"So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled." 1 Thessalonians 5:6
"But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet." 1 Thessalonians 5:8
"It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age," Titus 2:12
Clearly, self-control is essential to our well-being. It's more than just a frame of mind, it's also important for our health, and our relationships with other people. Someone who is battling a vice is thinking on it at all times, and that can have a drastic effect on our relationships with people. When we'd rather be doing what we shouldn't be doing, we care less and less about the people we should be caring about. I really think this is one of the reasons that temperance is one of the fruits of the spirit. God knew that we'd need a bit of self-control to help our relationships grow.
"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8 shows us that not having self-control provides an opening for the enemy to take control of our lives. It allows the devil to control our lives by making us focus on what we shouldn't. The most upstanding Christian can be going about their daily life when Satan introduces something new, and just like that, that model Christian has slipped and keeps going back for more. With the Holy Spirit by our side, we can be on guard for such an attack. I'm going to wrap up today by pasting here the context of Galations 5:22,23. I will post here Galations 5:16-26. It helps explain better what I've been trying to say, and also shows how important the fruit of the spirit is.
"So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.
19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another." Galations 5:16-26