I have a difficult time controlling myself around chocolate. It calls to me. I know I should cut back on chocolate, or cut it out altogether and my age and weight. But it calls to me. And I answer. Without thinking.
You may not be tempted by chocolate at all. Food may not be a struggle in your life. But we all struggle with self-control in some area of life, don’t we?
Perhaps your struggle is patience with your children. Without meaning to, the anger rises and the harsh words, or worse the physical abuse, are there without hesitation. Maybe the struggle is alcohol or drugs. You can see the brokenness and destruction taking place in your life, but the allure is just too great and you reach for the bottle or pills or syringe almost automatically. For some, driving turns one into an aggressive maniac.
Or maybe the area of discipline and self-control we struggle with is not something we shouldn’t do, but something we should. Do you struggle to carve out and maintain a daily time of prayer and reading God’s word? Is there an urge from within (or from God) to exercise more that has become a motivation war in life?
Self-control is a Fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is something God is willing to give so we will win battles with temptation and bad habits.
2 Timothy 1:7 says: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (NIV)
The Spirit of God gives power to stand against temptation and practice self-control. The Spirit of God gives love to motivate us to do what God calls us to do and to stop doing what God calls us to stop doing. The Spirit of God gives us self-discipline to eat five M&M’s instead of the whole bagful. I can’t believe I just typed that. Oh God, let your Holy Spirit come into play the very next time I am confronted with a bowlful of chocolate!
Here’s the thing. I do not face temptation alone. I am weak, but Jesus is strong. Self-control is really God-control. Victory is found in yielding all things to Him.
Life is messy. We can be full of contradictions. I can have exceptional self-control in abstaining from pornography and almost no self-control when it comes to chocolate. I can have amazing self-control in dealing with most people, and lose it when dealing with my wife.
But I have hope. The Holy Spirit lives in me. Self-control is His fruit to give. It is possible to resist—in God’s power, if not in my own strength.
Now where’s that bag of M&M’s? Six is enough, right? Help me, Lord!