Anybody who knows me knows that my mind works in phases; my focus jumps from one thing to the next pretty quickly, but wherever my focus is at, it is all there. My most recent obsession, if you will, has been on self-control. Not only has my concentration been in large part on this topic, but the few, rare moments that it was not, somehow whatever I was doing or whatever I was reading, brought it back into focus.
I’ve been reading the book, Made to Crave (which is already well-known to anybody who has read my past few posts), and the writer speaks a lot about self-control. I’ve been working on learning a calmer attitude, which requires lots of self-control. I’ve been reading the Bible, and what do you know? I keep coming across verses about self-control. So let’s start there. 2 Timothy 1: 7 tells us that God made us to possess self-control.
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
I find it both amazing and obscure how unattainable self-control seems in relation to ourselves, yet most of us nearly always, not only hope for but expect and almost demand that those who are close to us possess it. I’ve just been talking with friends who are struggling to maintain a friendship in contempt of a quite significant disagreement. What started as a calm, relaxed conversation, turned into a dispute that resulted in hurt feelings and acutely substantial tension. Why? Because one friend didn’t exercise self-control. From my perspective (across the room, and pacifistic to the change of tone) it was quite easy to spot the error that was made, and even easier to think to myself of how much better I could have handled it, if it were myself in the situation.
I began thinking about it, and in reality, would I have handled it any better? While I can’t say for certain, the most feasible answer, is no, I would not have done better. I was quick to stop this train of thought that I was on, knowing that I’ve been dealing with my own struggle with self-control. Again, what does the Bible tell us?
“A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.” -Proverbs 25:28
“The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.” -1 Peter 4:7
We are commanded to have self-control. Not only for God, but we need to have self-control. If we really sit back and think about it, we would all be in trouble if we had none. The problem is finding the strength to use it in the situations that sneak up or even the situations that we justify not using it (perhaps that new bakery down the street, or that last piece of cheesecake in the kitchen?). So where do we find this strength? Where do we find everything that we truly need? In God. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, it says that Gods power is made perfect in weakness.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
Up until around 2 weeks ago, I never really understood that verse. Actually, to be perfectly honest, I never gave it a second thought. It has come to be one of my favorites though. It tells me that I don’t need to be down when I am feeling weak. Weakness, is not a bad thing. When I am weak, God takes over for me and He is my strength. I can’t be any stronger than I am when God is in control. The key, and it’s one that I’m still working into practice, is owning my self-control, and realizing that it comes from God. If you take a look at the following verse, it speaks such beautiful words, but they are more than just words, they are truth. Truth that will be there to help strengthen you when you need it, when you need to use that self-control that is inside of you.
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” -2 Corinthians 12:10