A person without self-control
is like a city with broken-down walls. (NLT)
We simply can’t do just as we please, or demand everything we desire. If I want to lose weight, I must deny myself certain foods at certain times. If I want to earn more money, I may have to deny myself the pleasure of sleeping in most days. If I want to be part of my children’s nurture, I need to work fewer hours away from home. My desire to go on a big holiday is to be balanced against my desire to spend money right here and right now.
Lack of self-control leads to a disordered life. No long-term priorities are set: the demands of the immediate situation always take priority. Those who don’t exercise self-control are at the mercy of short-term desires and impulses. Satisfying these desires and impulses may hinder us from satisfying other desires and impulses.
The Bible never imagines we can exercise self-control all by ourselves. It is a product of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Just trying hard will lead to frustration and ultimate defeat. We will give up and abandon ourselves to the immediate and the urgent, to whatever pleasures present themselves to us.
Biblical self-control is not a prescription for grim misery. It is an opportunity for us to make wise choices which enhance our own lives and the lives of others. It is an opportunity for us to place God in control.