Healing Choices: Developing Self-Control
By Rick Warren
— October 5, 2009
“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 your success as you work through your hurts, habits, and hang-ups. Without self-discipline, you’re less likely to consistently make the kind of choices that will help you heal.
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 GNB).
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 this godly truth: I am responsible for my behavior.
The Bible teaches, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed” (James 1:13-14 NIV).
Do you see what that says? It says you do things because you like to do them! When I do something that I know is bad for me, I still might 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
In Philippians, we’re taught to forget what is behind and to strain toward what is ahead, to press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus (based on Philippians 3:13-14 NIV).
This verse exposes a misconception that will keep you from gaining self-control. Many of us think, “Once a failure, always a failure.” But that’s simply not true. God’s mercies--and our second chances--are fresh each morning.
Failure in the past doesn’t mean we will never be able to change as we move forward; however, focusing on past failures 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.