What happens when an undisciplined child does not get what they want? Yep, they throw a temper-tantrum. How many adults are still throwing tempter-tantrums? Why? In this post, I will share the why, what, where, and how concerning self-control. Often, people think self-control is self-discipline to eat right and exercise, but it is more than that. I want to go deeper and focus on healing the reason why we lack self-control.
Why can’t I control my emotions?
I asked God why because He knows everything (see Psalm 139:1-3). Several days later as I was writing this post, I realized I was still reacting to disappointment the same way I did when I was a child. God led me to the following transformational truths. 1Corinthians 13:11 states, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became [an adult,] I gave up childish ways.” And, 1 Corinthians 14:20 states, “Brethren, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.” Most of our self-control issues stem from immaturity. Maturity is to be fully developed, perfected, and able to control our thoughts, emotions, and desires. To be mature, we must put away our childish thinking and childish ways. I will explain how to do this in my next post.
What is self-control?
Synonyms for self-control are temperance, sound mind, and discipline. The Greek meaning for self-control is “power over yourself or strength to govern yourself.” Self-control is our source of power over our will and not will-power. When we have self-control, we have the power to control our thoughts, emotions, and desires.
What is the consequence of not having self-control?
Proverb 25:28 (ESV) “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Modern King James states, “He who has no rule over his own spirit is like a broken-down city without a wall.” The William MacDonald commentary explains Proverbs 25:28 as “A man who has never learned to discipline his life is like an undefended city, open to every kind of attack, exposed to every temptation.” The Matthew Henry commentary says, someone with self-control rules their thoughts, their desires, their inclinations, their resentments, and keeps them all in good order. If they lack self-control, they are exposed to the temptations of Satan and will have many troubles. The key word is “rules.” To rule is to exercise authority over it. I explain how to do this in Bondage to Unseen Controls and ALL THOUGHTS ARE WITHIN OUR CONTROL
James 1:14,15 state, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15) Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” We must rule our desires and put-up boundaries to protect our vulnerable hearts against temptations and attacks. A boundary that keeps us from sinning could be a truth statement or a command such as “do not get drunk” (Ephesians 5:18). We know that those who give in to the temptation to get drunk make themselves vulnerable to many other temptations, troubles, or even death. With this boundary, we can choose not to drink alcohol or exercise self-control or temperance and not get drunk. In my Fruit of the Spirit Characteristics worksheets on my website, I define many truths that can be used as boundaries around your heart and mind. With the truth of God’s Word and His divine power, you can govern how you will properly conduct ourselves instead of giving in to your desires. For those who lose their tempers, you need to first give up to God your desire to control everyone or everything other than yourself.
Where does self-control come from?
Self-control is produced by the Spirit of God as explained in Galatians 5:23. A fruit grows from branches that are part of a main vine. For Christians to produce fruit, they need to abide in the true vine, Jesus Christ, for life and nourishment (John 15:5). John 15:1-2 states, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” So, if you struggle with self-control, yield to the Father’s pruning in your life. Childish ways and thinking need to be pruned and removed from your mind. I explain how to do this in my short-book on my website.
After we have pruned our childish thinking, we then need to rely on Jesus for our strength and righteousness and keep our minds focused on His truths. When we rely on Jesus, we can draw from His divine power to produce spiritual fruit in our lives. The fruit of the Spirit are the characteristics or virtues of God, which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. So, the more we transform our childish thinking with the truth of God’s Word, then we will exhibit more of these virtues of God. And, as we draw divine power from the life of Jesus in us through prayer, we will become partakers of His divine nature, and then we can rule our desires with self-control. The more we gain Jesus’s divine nature, the more spiritual fruit we will have to give to others. We will have more love to give, more patience, kindness, joy, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.
2Peter 1:3-8 state, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5) For this very reason, make every effort to supplement (add to) your faith with virtue (moral excellence), and virtue with knowledge (of Jesus Christ and the truth of God’s Word), and knowledge with self-control (self-rule and self-discipline), and self-control with steadfastness (patience and endurance), and steadfastness with godliness (devotion to God), and godliness with brotherly affection (kindness), and brotherly affection with love. 8) 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.” Faith in God’s promises, moral excellence, knowledge of God’s truths, self-control, patience, devotion to God, kindness, and love, grows within us when we hear the Word of God preached and read our Bibles to transform childish thinking.
How do we put-away childish ways and rule with self-control?
When you were a child, what did your parents do to help you mature and learn self-control? They disciplined you? The Webster dictionary defines discipline as training that develops self-control, character, and proper conduct, which sometimes involves punishment. God also disciplines us when we do not practice self-control and then disobey Him (see Hebrews 12:7,11). Hebrews 12:11 states, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Note to parents, if you don’t correct self-control issues in your child, the lack of self-control will negatively affect every aspect of their adult lives. Disappointment is a fact of life and will happen daily. So, if you teach your children how to accept and process disappointment, then they won’t develop resentment and become emotionally handicap.
So, if there is an area in your life you lack self-control, ask God to show you the childish thinking you need to put away. We then must loose/put off self-centered desires to please ourselves or to control others. I explain this in detail in my short book called “Hope for Complete Healing.”
My next post will delve deeper into why we lack self-control and why we can’t rule our spirits and how to overcome.
There is hope for maturity and to be self-controlled as we transform childish thinking into Godly thinking.