I’d really like to write a book on self-control but then you might erroneously think I’m super skinny and that I’ve never bounced a check. Or you might assume I have a tranquil, calm life replete with uber-organized color coded calendar. That’s probably what I would surmise about an author writing a book on living a self-controlled life. I would naturally believe that the author has it all together. And though I would be interested, of course, in getting it all together … I would be very wary of a published piece by some hoity toity author that made me feel like a complete loser because I wasn’t just like her.
Let me reassure you: I must constantly watch my weight, my bank balance and my busy calendar. I wake everyday with a list of things I’d like to improve about myself. I am a Christian and I believe God is in the process of making me better but I also still struggle daily in sin and shortcoming. I am a regular woman in need of some self control – over my habits, my impulses and my appetites. And I am guessing I am probably a lot like you. Trying really hard to manage it all but feeling many times that getting a handle on it is an uphill battle.
We need self control. We need it in order to take care of our bodies, our stuff, and our schedules. And truth be told, God exhorts us to exercise self control. But it’s not just so that we can feel good about ourselves. God wants us to be self controlled so that we don’t become sitting ducks for the enemy.
1 Peter 5:8 warns, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” This is where the more serious problem begins. Because when you are lacking self control – especially when you feel you are trying so hard, the enemy sees an opportunity and sneaks in. He moves in just as you start berating yourself and whispers more of the same. Instead of feeling strong and able to “do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” you feel weak and wounded. Ill equipped to manage the one person in life you are called to manage: you. Accusatory voices swirl in your head and you become more despondent and less motivated. And slowly but surely you believe that you will never be able to overpower your weaknesses. So you give in and give up. Led away by weakness – and devoured by the enemy. Believing a lie.
The truth? You are designed by God for dominion. Over your impulses, over your desires and your decisions. Through Christ, you are more than a conqueror. You are not designed to be imprisoned by imbalance in life. Or strangled by a lack of self control.
You can live a balanced life in these unbalanced times by yielding to God and His promise and by believing that you really do have conqueror capacity for controlling yourself because God designed you that way. But you must strengthen your spiritual instincts – so you are no longer easy prey.