Self-control—there is more to it than you might think

Self-control—there is more to it than you might think
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Educate your children to self-control, to the habit of holding passion and prejudice and evil tendencies subject to an upright and reasoning will, and you have done much to abolish misery from their future and crimes from society.”
A good example of self-control endured in dreadful circumstances is Jackie Robinson. Jackie Robinson was asked to be the first to go where no African American had gone before. In 1947, he became the first African American to play in the major leagues. Jackie knew it would be a challenge to face the daily confrontations of prejudice and hate. However, he kept his cool and maintained self-control, no matter how ugly things got. He rose above the challenges by focusing on playing his best game. Ken Sylvester writes: “For Robinson, the first African-American man to have the opportunity to participate in the major leagues for the Brooklyn Dodgers, it was all about playing the game. He was hand-selected by President Branch Rickey and the Dodger organization to cross the precipitous ‘color line.’ Robinson promised Rickey that he would not fight back, other than with his bat and glove, despite what teammates, competitors, fans, umpires, writers, broadcasters, and hotel managers might have said or how they tried to bait him into reacting.”
So then, how do you react when you don’t get something you want or the way you want? What about when someone disagrees with you? What about when you read or hear something that offends you or hurts your feelings? What about when you feel like you’ve been treated unfairly or disrespected? Okay, if that’s not serious enough allow me to ask this question. How would you describe your self-control related to social media and electronics? The answers to these questions will give you insight to your level of self-control, so take time to ponder them.
Another couple of areas that will expose your level of self-control, you might say spiritual maturity, are temperament and temptation. How would you describe your temperament? Do you lose control as your anger gets the best of you? Do you call people names and/or tell them what you think of them? How well do you respond to temptation? We are typically tempted in our areas of weakness like sex, food, buying things we don’t need and all sorts of addictions. Do you typically give in to the temptation?
If you’re convicted that you need to improve your self-control you’ll ultimately need God’s help. Self-control is not simply something that we can simply generate upon demand. The Bible teaches us 4 distinct things about self-control and the role God plays in our self-control.
  Self-control is among the characteristics that describe the fruit of the Spirit – a sign that Christ is in us and working through us. 
Gal 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 
  God’s Spirit lives within us and He gives us self-control. 
2 Tim 1:7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 
  Self-control is a quality that helps us transform and grow. 
2 PE 1:5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
  To be self-controlled as we pray suggests that we are to pray focused and alert. In other words, we are to take prayer seriously. 
1 PE 4:7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.  
Further to that, to become self-controlled requires every aspect of our being to be brought under submission to Christ. This includes our thoughts, desires, feelings, attitude, speech and actions. We bring our thoughts under control in order to obey Christ. 2 COR 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, Our desires become the desires God gives us. PS 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Our feelings must submit to thinking right and doing right according to the Word of God. Our feelings often steer us wrong as they bubble up from our sinful desires. PR 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Our attitude should cause us to shine like lights in the world. PhP 2:14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Our speech should build others up and a means of giving grace. EPH 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Our actions must be tempered by doing everything in the name of the Lord. Just ask yourself, am I doing this or saying this to glorify God? COL 3:17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

In short, you can think of it this way, we have self-control when God is in control of us. If we allow our desires to influence our decisions, our lives can quickly spin out of control. Self-control is a discipline that grows in us when we continually choose to die to self and live in Jesus. To reiterate, self-control is not simply something that we can simply generate upon demand. If you’re convicted that you need to improve your self-control, you’ll need God’s help and His empowerment.
A Work in Progress,

Pastor Gene