What does it mean to have self-control?
Many of us relate self-control to the ability to manage bad habits, unwanted actions, and unnecessary emotions. It could be about stopping yourself from eating that delectable donut because you know too much sugar is bad. It could also be about managing your anger when you’re offended, frustrated, or disappointed. The word itself is simple and easy to understand but practicing it every day can be a real struggle.
Can we truly be self-controlled? Can you take charge of your impulses and have the will power to not do things that are not necessary? Scripture tells us that we can. It is a fruit that we bear as we abide in Christ as the Holy Spirit enables us to.
Self-control according to the Scriptures
It is helpful to understand self-control through Galatians 5:22-23 as part of the “fruit of the Spirit” Alongside love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness; these passages teach us that self-control is a fruit we bear. It is a result of being connected to Christ. It is more than just controlling one’s behavior. Rather, it is a manifestation of the inner working of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Below are some of the bible verses about self-control that you can remind yourself of today.
God commands us to be self-controlled
Our human nature is fallen. We are susceptible to the temptation by our own sinful desires. Giving in to these leads us to sin or do things that are not beneficial in our walk with Christ. The Bible commands us to put these desires in place and practice self-control in our thoughts and our behavior.
1. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach… (1 Timothy 3:2)
2. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. (Roman 12:3)
3. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. (Titus 2:6)
4. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)
Love as our motivation for self-control
Practicing self-control does not equal being legalistic. It is not operated by strict rules. Rather, it is fueled by love. We practice self-control because we love God and we love others. We ask God’s help to enable us to restrain our behavior so that we can be used for His glory and we can serve others well.
1. “Lead us not into temptation,” we pray, as Jesus instructed. Those words come after we’ve said, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done” (Matthew 6:9-13).
2. For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)
3. The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. (1 Peter 4:7)
4. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control… (2 Peter 1:5-6)
Self-discipline as practical application
Finally, though self-control is a battle won in the mind and the spirit, self-discipline is a practical tool we can use to guard ourselves so that we are not an open target to temptations. Setting limitations and boundaries for ourselves can be so helpful so that we don’t even have to be caught in a situation where we need to battle with our desire to sin and our desire to follow God. If you are often tempted to go to inappropriate websites, don’t allow yourself to go into your room by yourself with your laptop. If you want to get rid of a vice or a bad habit, make yourself accountable to a friend or leader who would check up on you. In short, make an effort to be steps ahead and intentionally avoid pitfalls you know you are susceptible to.
1. A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. (Proverbs 25:28)
2.. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. (Proverbs 4:27)
3.. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
4. This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger (James 1:19)
Remember that self-control is a gift from God. It keeps us grounded and it helps us understand other people more. It is but right to thank God for constantly reminding this to us through the words in the bible. If you find yourself lacking self-control, find it in your heart to pray for it in order to grow spiritually.