The Battle for Self-Controlby Cynthia Jennings on June 1, 2022
We have a 10-year-old beagle, his name is Charlie Brown. He is the cutest beagle and most people think he’s still a puppy. He’ll melt your heart if you look him in the eyes.
Well, with all the cute talk out the way, you would think a 10-year-old dog could roam around the house when we’re not home, and not get into mischief. That’s not the case with Charlie Brown. My husband really doesn’t like keeping Charlie brown in the crate while we’re out. So, he decided to try something different. He used the dog gate to block Charlie Brown off from all of the house with free range to the kitchen and basement. In times past Charlie Brown would knock the gate down. So, for reinforcement my husband put our grandson’s activity table in front of the gate. The first couple of times Charlie Brown realized he couldn’t get out. Success!!! Or so, we thought.
The next time not only did Charlie Brown manage to push through the gate and activity table, he chewed up a portion of the blinds!
The temptation was too strong, Charlie Brown lost his battle with self-control!
At that moment we realized the gate and activity table were no match for a dog who wanted out.
This made me think. Sometimes the “gates” I place around myself don’t hold firm when I need them either.
Impulsive eating of Salt & Vinegar chips.
Snacking too much throughout the day, even though I tell myself “don’t eat that.”
Scrolling when I should be studying or praying.
Entertaining thoughts that are contrary to God’s truth.
My list could continue. What will your list consist of?
Maybe you, too, know the limits of your will and the battle to master your impulses. The Bible says we show self-control when we obey His Word instead of doing our own thing. Self-control takes authority away from the enemy, our flesh, and other people and submits itself to God.
Yet how do we show self-control when temptation feels too strong? How do we overcome the urge of breaking thorough the “gate?”
Good news—our compassionate God gives all we need!
Titus 2:11-14 ESV reveals God’s promises to those who want to live self-controlled lives for Him: “ For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
Did you catch the key to self-control? It’s not our willpower but the grace of God Himself!
First, God’s grace offers salvation to you and me. We’re set free from sin’s power. We receive the “light of life,” so we never have to walk in darkness again (John 8:12 ESV). Old habits no longer define us because, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV).
Next, God equips us to live by His Word. We receive His Spirit, who “ is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12 ESV). He clears away the confusion of how to apply the Bible to our lives, (1 Corinthians 2:13 ESV). As the Word is made alive in us, we bear the fruit of self-control (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV). Our thoughts, words, and actions align with God’s ways and will (2 Timothy 1:7 ESV; Romans 12:2 ESV).
Finally, we’re graced with the family of God: “people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14 ESV). We challenge each other to keep the faith. When temptation calls, we should help support each other. In life’s sufferings, we hold each other up. “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works”, as we grow in self-control, together (Hebrews 10:24 ESV).
There are times in life when we realize our “gates” are no match for our self-control.
Do you long to be responsive to God instead of reactive to your circumstances?
Are you tired of knocking down that “gate?”
The only “gate” that will keep our self-control in check, is the One who created us and knows us the best. The Holy Spirit is the “gatekeeper” for our hearts. “Through the fear of the LORD one turns from evil” (Proverbs 16:6 ESV). When temptation comes knocking at our” gate,” the Holy Spirit nudges our Scripture-informed conscience: “That’s dangerous. Don’t go there.” The divine Gatekeeper acts on our behalf to keep invaders from destroying us or from us destroying ourselves.
Just like the divine Gatekeeper acts on our behalf to keep us from destruction, we had to act on Charlie Brown’s behalf to keep him from destruction. Because he has no self- control, he is relegated to his crate every time we leave the house.
What does the Gatekeeper have to relegate you to, to keep you from destruction?
God’s “gates” don’t just protect from others, it protects us from ourselves.
Prayer: Heavenly Father in the Name of Jesus, I wake up eager to battle my weaknesses, but there are times when I fall. Forgive me for choosing my way over yours. Give me the wisdom to not only know your Word but the confidence and strength to live by it daily. Provide a wise and godly friend to walk the journey of faith by my side. Bear the fruit of self-control in me. Reveal to me any temptation that I haven’t laid at your feet so that I may confess it and repent of it. Thank you, Father, for your daily grace and unconditional love.
PEARLStoPONDER: God knows what’s best for us, so allow His “gates” to protect you from yourself.
Proverbs 30:5--Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him
Matthew 26:41--Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
2 Timothy 1:7--for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
James 1:12--Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.