Self-control is the second thing that can help you live happy as a Christian, after freedom!
According to Psychology Today, “self-control separates us from our ancient ancestors and the rest of the animal kingdom, thanks to our large prefrontal cortex. It is the ability to subdue our impulses in order to achieve longer-term goals.”
Successful people (including Christians) are the ones who have better self-control. In other words, lack of self-control, not only does it make you fail, but you may end up doing things that are harmful to you and the people in your life.
In case, you did not know, “self-control” is a Biblical term. For instance, the Bible talks about it this way:
A person without self-control is like a breached city, one with no walls. Proverbs 25: 28. CEB.
Another place in the Bible where you come across the phrase self-control is in one of Paul’s letters:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5: 22-23. ESV.
How does then self-control make us live happy as Christians? And, what do we need to do to make it happen on a daily basis?
Let’s use Romans 12: 1-2 to help us,
I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ESV.
Self-control is the ability to test and approve what God’s will is for you on a daily basis.
Based on Romans 12, God’s plan for all humans is that we do God’s will!
But, the challenge is how to test and approve what God’s will is for us.
If you take a look at the original text (Greek), the word, δοκιμάζω (dokimazo) used here, and which translates as “test and approve” could also mean the following:
- To put to the test.
- To prove and examine.
- To distinguish by testing.
- To approve after testing.
- To be fit.
Self-control enables you to come out fit and capable of doing what’s pleasing in God’s eyes no matter what you face in life.
Listen to the audio sermon on the same topic
You could refer to that as resilience. I talked about that, not long ago, as one of the 5 benefits one experiences through the Holy Spirit.
Paul describes it this way:
- Afflicted in every way, but not crushed.
- Perplexed, but not driven to despair.
- Persecuted, but not forsaken.
- Struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4: 8-9.
Self-control isn’t about us because it aims at showing that the surpassing power working in us belongs to God, and not to us.
Clearly, self-control is about saying NO to our present impulses and gratifications in order to say YES to a thing of greater purpose.
Paul, in 2 Corinthians 4 (the Scripture partially quoted above), uses the metaphor of we, as clay, carrying a treasure in us. This treasure is the death of Jesus Christ.
Carrying the death of Jesus in us thus allows the life of Jesus to become manifest in us.
Self-control shifts our focus from our ego to God’s purpose and plans for our lives.
It requires us to learn how to be aware, not only of our own emotions and feelings but also those of others. Doing so enables us to choose a healthy way to speak with others and respond to what’s going on in or around us.
Self-control is a gift of the Holy Spirit.
Self-control is something that comes naturally.
You can learn about it, but it requires some inner-work as well as some inner transformation.
Inner-work and personal transformation are things that take place in your heart and mind before people around you see its fruit.
The Bible talks about two things related to what I’ve just described:
- First, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. In addition, your body doesn’t belong to you, but to God Who paid a high price to claim you back to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20).
- Second, self-control is a gift of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5: 23).
Self-control, as the ability to test and approve what God’s will is for you, will, therefore, require you to make space for the Holy Spirit in your life.
Allow God’s Spirit to dwell in you. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you and everything you do in life.
Do it on a daily basis.
That way, self-control will only be just a big part of who you are because it’s the outcome of having God’s Spirit dwell in you.
Paul, based on Romans 12, encourages you first to offer your body, as the temple of the Holy Spirit, back to God. Do it every day that you’re alive. Second, choose not to conform to what the world in and around you offers you. Instead, God wants you to renew your way of thinking because that’s where you’ll need to make room for the Holy Spirit. Doing the above will allow you to have self-control no matter what situations in which you may find yourself.