When we lack self-control we fall into a world of excesses. There are no boundaries to the lusts or passions we chase after.
The first thing that comes to mind when most people think of self-control is eating. The eyes want to consume everything while the mind puts up limits. If it didn’t, we would ALL become so obese we couldn’t even move from the couch! A diet is completely dependent on a person’s self-control. Without it the diet fails at the first temptation or hunger pain.
Without self-control we have no ‘safety net’. There is nothing within us to stop us when temptation comes. There may be others who are in our sphere of influences who could lend a hand in the areas we are weak, but it still takes asserting even a little self-control before we can move on from a specific trouble spot.
As I’m writing this, I’m sitting here eating nuts and raisins. My hand moves between my mouth and the bowl almost without me even thinking about it. The self-control I should be exerting is dormant; for the moment. My little bowl in now empty. I AM exercising self-control in not going and refilling it. Or that could be laziness. I’m exercising another aspect of self-control at the moment by not letting myself curl up and take a nap. The nuts were supposed to help with that.
When I first started thinking about self-control, a child throwing a temper tantrum was what popped into my head. I began thinking about the situations that trigger such behavior. Anger and frustration are two of the most common causes. When a child is young, they haven’t learned to control their emotions. They learn through experience what works and what doesn’t. The initial tantrums are a lack of self-control, but given enough time, those tantrums become something else entirely. They become a way the child can control others. They have learned to get their needs and wants met this way. And it takes a LOT of work to teach them to choose another method, especially when the adults around them are responding in the ways the child wants.
So, what does the person without self-control do? He/She has to begin building or rebuilding it again. Every aspect of our lives requires some aspect of self-control. Choosing to get up in the morning instead of sleeping all day. Deciding to work instead of having others care for you. Walking away from an argument instead of escalating it. Putting the fork down when you body is full. ALL these are examples of exercising self-control.
And gaining (or regaining) it starts with ONE decision; “I will ____” and sticking with it. Maybe that ‘sticking with it’ only lasts for a few minutes but it is the first step in reestablishing boundaries. With each ‘exercise’ in self-control it gets a little easier. The more you practice, the more likely it will be that the area you are practicing will become a positive aspect for you. A good habit of behavior will be born to replace the area where self-control was lacking.
One step at a time. One brick at a time. Your boundaries will be strengthened and you will find yourself looking for new ways to improve on what you have gained.
The BEST way to even begin exercising self-control in an area is to ask the Holy Spirit to help you when you find your strength failing. He WILL stand with you and hold you fast, when you put your trust in hm.
Father God, You know my biggest areas of weakness. Help me rebuild the walls of self-control in these areas. Help me to say “No” and STICK TO IT. Thank You for all the victories I have won along the way. They give me hope for the future. Thank You for keeping me going today; even after the nuts were gone. I TRULY want to honor You with faithfulness.