Where have you gone, self-control?
What has become of you?
Have you left our land never to return, or are you there waiting to be reintroduced by those who should already know you?
Oh, self-control, don’t hide your face anymore…
Ha! Just a little strange poetry humor to get us started… anyone know Silverweed from Watership Down? No? Moving on… Self-control. No one talks about SELF control any more, or if they do, it is actually seen to be a negative thing, something to make fun of. However, when we read scripture it become evident that self-control is extremely important and is a valuable thing. It is my argument that many negative things we are facing in our current culture arises, in part, from a lack of self-control.
Freedom and self-control go hand-in-hand. Do we see this in scripture? We sure do! Please check out an earlier article on mine that goes into the Greek behind “temperance” which is self-control, and that is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. The Fruit of the Spirit, pt. 9; Temperance
Self-control is also taught in the OT; Proverbs 25:28 He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls. If you lack self-control, you lack defenses against the enemy. Sound like that could be a connection with all the things we see around us right now in our culture? When we have a lack of self-control, we suffer as individuals, but we also hurt others including the whole of the Body of Christ. When self-control is absent, addiction can move and set up shop in our lives.
We look around and we see the lack of self-control; sex and porn addiction, homosexual acts, fornication, adultery, drug and alcohol addiction, gluttony, addiction to gossip, and on and on. Not only that, we see a generation of kids who can’t control themselves. Debts is out of control, and people can’t seem to put their electronics down for more than a minute at a time. One of the reasons we see this is that it has become a belief that control comes from outside of ourselves. Drugs are a popular example of this. I’m all for necessary medications, but there is now this thought that whatever is wrong, legal or illegal drugs can correct. We also see law, or legality, as an example as well. If it is legal, it must be ok, because if it wasn’t ok, it would be illegal and the government would control us. Speaking of the government, they are also trying to impose control in other ways. Kids not eating healthy? Take away the vending machines at school. Outlaw big gulps… yeah, that’ll work.
No. God puts the responsibility squarely on us, and says if we are walking with Him, if we are believers, we will have help from the Holy Spirit. One of the major things I hope people understand is that it is not weakness to seek help for something we feel is out of our control. Let’s use the porn epidemic as an example. Men and women are both affected, sometimes in different ways. Further, some may think porn “doesn’t hurt anyone” so what is the big deal? First of all, it is a big deal to God. It hurts the one viewing it. It changes the neural pathways in the brain in a way that is unhealthy, and causes the individual to react differently when met with a real-life woman (or man) and a real relationship. It also hurts the ones participating in the pornography itself; it is degrading and debasing for all involved. It hurts the whole Body of Christ, for when one person is harmed the rest are as well. It’s like a virus spreading; what we do in “private” is not disconnected from everything else, nor everyone else. Perfect example of all of this; I’m sure you’ve read or heard of the Josh Duggar scandal. He never actually internalized self-control, but was instead controlled by thoughts, urges, and hormones; the perfect example of what not to do or how to be. He learned how to mimic self-control, not how to actually control himself.
We see other examples surrounding us, or even in our own lives. How we eat, how we spend our money, how we handle anger, where our thoughts go, how we spend our time, our actions, our words… It’s past time we take a look at our selves, and start practicing self-control and teaching our children how to practice it as well, if we haven’t already. Practicing self-control isn’t locking ourselves away from temptation, but rather learning how to respond correctly to the temptation when it rears its ugly head. Part of this is embracing the freedom God gives us, and learning responsibility within that freedom. God says He always gives us a way out of temptation… it’s time to look for that open door. If you need help, find help. This is not a legalistic thing, but rather it is all about health; the individual’s spiritual, physical, and mental health, and having good defenses. As each individual gains proper healthy defenses, the body of Christ as a whole can flourish.