Developing Self-Control

“Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control” (Proverbs 25:28 NIV).

Self-control brings with it the good feeling of competency. Like a finely tuned precision automobile, your life stays on course with the slightest touch of steering. The results of self-control are confidence and an inner sense of security.

Self-control and self-discipline are also key factors in any success you hope to have in this life. Without self-discipline, you are unlikely to achieve anything of lasting value.

The apostle Paul realized this when he wrote, “Every athlete in training submits to strict discipline, in order to be crowned with a wreath that will not last; but we do it for one that will last forever” (1 Corinthians 9:25 GNT).

Olympic athletes train for years in order to have a chance to win a brief moment of glory. But the race we are running is far more important than any earthly athletic event. So self-control is not optional for Christians.

How do we gain true self-control?

Admit your problem. The starting point for developing self-control is to face what God has already said about me: I am responsible for my behavior.

James 1:14 (PH) says, “A man’s temptation is due to the pull of his own inward desires, which can be enormously attractive.”

Do you realize what that says? It says you do things because you like to do them! When I do something I know is bad for me, I still do it because I like to do it. I want to do it; it’s an inner desire.

Do you want more self-control? Admit you have a problem and be specific about it. Begin praying specifically about your problem areas.

Put your past behind you. Philippians 3:13–14 (NIV) says, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal…”

This verse exposes a misconception that will keep you from gaining self-control: Once a failure, always a failure.

Failure in the past does not mean you’ll never be able to change. Focusing on past failures, however, does guarantee their repetition. It’s like driving a car and looking in the rearview mirror the whole time. You’re going to collide with what’s ahead of you.

Ask God to help you put your past behind you.


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