How would you describe self-control?
I define self-control regarding vocal tones: if I raise my voice at my children, I’m not self-controlled. The times I can discuss and administer consequences calmly, on the other hand, are examples of success in controlling myself. I have always limited self-control to an “Am I yelling or not?” evaluation. However, the Lord recently showed me that such a narrow of a scope of this outstanding quality is dangerous.
Early in our dating relationship, Jason made it clear to me that we would not raise our voices at each other. He doesn’t yell (except at football games), and despite my — um, loud — upbringing, I quickly adapted to his standard. Yet, I have never considered the possibility that even if I don’t scream at my husband, I can still struggle with a lack of self-control in my marriage.
As I was going to bed last night, I read Proverbs 25:28 which states, “A person without self-control is like a city whose walls are broken through.” The Holy Spirit immediately brought to mind the countless times, as recent as yesterday morning, that I am, in fact, like a city whose walls are broken through. I have a knack for growing silent when I’m upset. Not quiet or reserved, but cold, distant, and closed off towards my husband. I don’t know why I never connected my silent treatment as a sign of lacking self-control.
I have falsely believed that it is better to shut down than to scream, but both choices allow my emotions to determine my behavior. The truth is, I’m equally out of control whether I’m silently fuming or yelling. Both responses are indicators that circumstances and emotions are controlling the wife.
I have put self-control into a small box and assume if I avoid that box I am not sinning. The Bible is not shy in addressing the importance of willpower in the life of a believer (see Galatians 5:22-23, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Titus 2:13, and 2 Peter 1:5-7 just to name a few). But knowing those verses is a mere starting point, we must also become aware of all that “self-control” entails. It can be addressing our carnal nature or our relationship with food and money. It can be referring to taming our tongue, avoiding gossip, and controlling our thoughts. All our emotions ranging from anger and fear to sadness and pouting are under the self-restraint umbrella. Almost anything can be related brought back to this discipline. It’s time to allow God to open my eyes to my need to increase self-control throughout my life regardless of what my vocal tones might be.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. ~ Galatians 5:16-26 (ESV)
How do you define self-control?
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