The Truth About Self-Control & Why I love it!
Control of self vs. The Spirit of Self Control
Self-control is one of the fruits of Holy Spirit! Sometimes that can be a shock or confusing matter to some of us.
When we think of self-control, we often think about it as being one of the lists of fruit that we do not understand or even dread.
And yet, it is the one we often all crave and desire after. It is the one fruit that we all know that we need in our lives to experience true freedom.
I have grown to love self-control/temperance to the point of actually discovering delight in this special gift given by the Lord.
The Gentle Truth
Before we go into the truth about self-control, we have to remove wrong thinking and change our minds to embrace freedom fully.
There is often a stark difference in understanding this fruit because we often get confused with "the control of self" and self-control, which are two different matters.
The question is what and who is the self to which we are referring? Who is the who?
So often, the self is the soulish part of us trying to exert power and dominion in as many areas of life as possible. And for many Christians, Christ is often tagged on for good measure.
But control of self is often riddled in legalism, self-centeredness, self-promotion, self-determination, self-serving, and self-sufficiency – outside of Christ. What is there to delight in when our attempts are set in pure grit and hard work? There is no joy in this.
Initially, we will find some counterfeit delight in seeing (albeit fleeting) changes but the best plans are the long-term well thought out plans.
The Bible teaches us that self-control is a FRUIT OF THE Spirit. It can not be a work of the FLESH or, as the Bible teaches, dead works. The Spirit produces life, but the flesh in control leads to nothing except death:
John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. (emphasis added)
Romans 8:6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
When we approach self-control, we have to know that it is an inward work of your spirit mingled with Holy Spirit. Self-control is not the work of the soul or natural strength outside of the governance of the Holy Spirit.
My journey began with controlling my eating habits, which was an absolute waste of 20+ years spent in endless dieting, money, time, and self-discipline measures. "If only I could just have some SELF CONTROL" was my constant cry!
I was stomping my feet in endless frustration, doubt, and condemnation. There is no condemnation for those who walk according to the Spirit, so this should have been a big wake-up call that something wasn't right. Romans 8:1-2
I tried the Christian programs and diets but alas, to no avail.
"What was wrong with me?" Of course, nothing was WRONG with 'me,' but there was a missing piece of the puzzle in my life that, at the time, I just hadn't found.
Often we are so gripped with saying, "what's wrong with me"? But the Bible teaches that it is no longer you that lives but Christ!
By majorly overhauling my identity in Christ, I discovered that I am not the total of my thoughts or actions.
Galatians 2:20 "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
I discovered that the missing part of the puzzle was learning to practice leaning into the Spirit of God when life happens and taking my eyes off TRYING to "control self" in food, diets, tv watching, etc.
The Holy Spirit was the one I started to practice leaning into, learning to rest, pause, and provide a space to hear more clearly.
You see, whatever your vice is – whatever you turn to for coping is just a symptom of a deeper area of your life that has not experienced the remarkable wisdom, delighting, and goodness of the Lord.
I now live a life where cravings, diets, and emotional eating no longer have a hold over my life, thoughts, or actions. Hallelujah! All glory to God!
I learned that self-control was the ability to pause on any circumstance or situation with the NUMBER 1 GOAL and glorious opportunity to experience more of God.
His perspective, His view, His gentle guidance and heart about the situation. Not my last goal, which was to pause and stop so I wouldn't eat the extra cookie.
The Bible clearly states that we must seek the kingdom first, not the primary focus on having the extra cookie or the diet plan we desperately want to keep.
The truth is all of these things we want will naturally be added to our lives with His yoke that is easy and His light burdens.
I discovered that the only way I would prosper in health was when my soul began to flourish. 3 John 1:2
How did it become a delight?
I heard a quote that it was like pressing pause on your favorite live tv show. So you can get up and grab your cup of tea or coffee, have a bathroom break, etc.
This precious gift had been given so that I could press pause on life's circumstances happening "live" right in front of me and turn to Him to have my actual needs met.
Thus enabling me to experience the other fruit of the Spirit and wisdom of the Lord guiding me step by step in any given scenario.
Do you remember the days of TV before you could pause or, in fact, before we had decent remotes? It was a lot more effort and a lot more of self. But we now have and always could press pause on life.
And the goal: To never press un-pause on that situation again. And just in case you do, that's okay; we get to practice pressing pause again.