Self-Control Check Up
Whenever I read the fruits of the Spirit and examined my heart, I noticed that one of the ones I lacked in the most was self-control. I was guilty of emotionally eating. I would randomly work-out to take care of my body but was never consistent with it. I allowed my emotions to ebb and flow with whatever circumstances I was in, dictating how I reacted.
Eventually, I grew tired of it and prayed for the Lord to help me. He brought this passage to my attention:
“Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable crown. So I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
The apostle Paul shared this passage after explaining his ministry. He acted (within the law of Christ) like the people he was around to win them for Jesus by the power of the gospel. He could do this because he disciplined himself by the word of God so that he wouldn’t give into the temptations of the various groups of people he was with, but would be able to make a greater impact for them and for Jesus.
When I read through 1 Corinthians 9, the Lord taught me that how I acted left an impression on everyone that I came in contact with. How I was living could influence others towards or away from Jesus. This greatly raised the awareness to me to be self-controlled, but I knew I couldn’t do it on my own. I needed Holy Spirit’s power to do it.
So, I dove into the word of God. I continued to pray and bring this request to be more self-controlled before the Lord. I observed how I reacted to people and the choices I made each day. I became a student of myself for a time. Then I began to notice the Lord making my choices more aware in the front of my mind. I thought about what I was about to eat. Why was I eating it? Was I actually hungry? Or was I eating because I was upset about something, or not sure what else to do? Was I going to exercise or flop on the couch at the end of the day and binge watch TV? How was I about to react to what that person just told me?
I am not perfect at fulfilling this fruit of the Spirit, however, I know that I won’t until I reach heaven. But, as Paul did, I strive for it so that I will not be disqualified when preaching the gospel to others.
I am thankful that the Lord is self-controlled in all things. He doesn’t let His emotions rule His decisions. He doesn’t give in to what people think of Him. He is confident in Himself and the choices He has and will make. He understands that everything He has purposed and designed will work out for His glory and our good in the end. He isn’t rushed by deadlines or worried about the state of the world. He’s got it all worked out.
He doesn’t rashly react to our choices either. Instead, He is slow-to-anger and ready to forgive. Sure, He gives consequences and discipline for our sinful actions, but that’s being a loving and protective Father to keep us from doing it again.
We can learn so much from observing the Lord and how He handles situations. His word is our guide to realize what is important and what isn’t. He shows us how to handle our emotions and take them under control. He teaches us how much He wants us to care for our bodies and where to focus our time and attention.
So, my friend, I ask you now. How do you feel you’re doing with self-control? Are you making the right choices or allowing your emotions to dictate how you’re going to react? Where are the areas that you can work on to honour God? The wonderful thing is that it’s not up to you to fix it all. You can’t. You aren’t strong or disciplined enough in yourself. That’s why the Lord has given you the Holy Spirit so that you can ask and be dependent on Him to help you. He loves it when you ask for more of Him and He gives it to you. Take some time this week to think about this area of your life and how the Lord can help guide you into more self-control. Don’t worry, I’ll be doing the same.