Before I write about self-control I must share a disclaimer. I struggle with this area personally. I wrestle against impure thoughts. I don’t always use my time wisely. I say or do things I shouldn’t. In short, I have a long way to go to be like my hero—Jesus. It is recklessly foolish to think I can control myself by my own doing. My sin nature guarantees the impossibility of self-earned perfection. What is a fallible man to do?
Nehemiah 5:14,15--Furthermore, from the day King Artaxerxes appointed me to be their governor in the land of Judah—from the twentieth year until his thirty-second year, 12 years—I and my associates never ate from the food allotted to the governor. The governors who preceded me had heavily burdened the people, taking food and wine from them, as well as a pound of silver. Their subordinates also oppressed the people, but I didn’t do this, because of the fear of God.
Governor Nehemiah did not take advantage of the perks of office. He refused to amass wealth or to eat the rich foods he could have enjoyed. He exercised self-control. What made him different from the previous rulers? He feared God. His reverence revealed his understanding of the law God passed to the Israelites through Moses on how leaders should act. Nehemiah was a great role model for us in:
How to be Self-Controlled
1. We must first die to self. Peter the Greatonce said, “I have conquered an empire but I have not been able to conquer myself.” Self-control starts by erasing self’s control. Jesus said in order to follow Him we must say “no” to SELFish ambition as He demonstrated by suffering on a cross to obey His Father, when He could have reigned as King (Luke 9:23). We must take inventory of whatever things control us and willfully put them under God’s authority.
2. We must focus on being like Christ. Whatever rules our attention influences our behavior. If our hearts are set on pleasing Jesus, our lives will be transformed. Two things help us stay Christ-centered.
a.Trusting God. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart,and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways,and He will guide you on the right paths” (Pro. 3:5,6). The reason many of us fail to overcome our shortcomings is we rationalize our behavior or we rely upon human remedies at the expense of believing God’s power is sufficient to give us the victory we need.
b.Obeying God. Out of reverence for God, we study His Word. Then we can discern how we should live. We work to be receptive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. To rebel against His Lordship is to pridefully suggest we know what is best.
We are not masters of our own feeling, but we are by God's grace masters of our consent.—Francois Fenelon
Samson, when brave, strangled a lion; but he could not strangle his own love. He burst the fetters of his foes; but not the cords of his own lusts. He burned the crops of others, and lost the fruit of his own virtue when burning with the flame, kindled by a single woman.—Gary Inrig in Hearts of Iron, Feet of Clay
Self-control is nothing more than a mental habit that controls the body and mind by a dominant relationship, namely, the immediate presence of the Lord—for “the Lord is at hand.”—Oswald Chambers in The Moral Foundations of Life
In a department store a young husband was minding the baby while his wife was making a purchase. The infant was wailing, but the father seemed quite unperturbed as he quietly said, "Easy now, Albert," he murmured, "keep your temper." A woman passing by remarked, "I must congratulate you! You seem to know just how to speak to a baby." "Baby nothing!" came the reply. "MY name is Albert!"
©2002 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)