PROVERBS 16:32 – Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”
So many things may be observed in a Christian who is mature in Christ. There is the consistency of walking with Him by showing forth a life of faithfulness no matter the highs and lows of life’s circumstances. Another observable trait in maturing Christians would be sacrificial lives of serving others through self-denial. Still yet a believer demonstrating marked maturity in Christ would be a life blossoming in the Fruit of the Spirit-Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control(Galatians 5:22-23a). Pay attention to the last one, self-control, for that is the direction today’s nugget is taking us.
We live in a world that is both out of control and lacking self-control. Few things will stand out more in such a world than the Christian exercising the opposite; Godly self-control. But what would it take for us to live self-controlled lives and show forth Christ to a watching world? Here are two applications with the first one being a mindset to develop.
The Christian who desires to live life exercising God-honoring self-control must know such a life begins in the mind and is impossible without the Spirit of God. Remember self-control is a part of the cluster of the Fruit of the Spirit meaning it cannot be produced in the strength of human resolve. Granted, unsaved people may exhibit human self-control to achieve worldly things like educational degrees, vocational advancements, and physical well-being. But the true measure of self-control defined and provided by God is spiritual; the kind that controls the mind toward godliness – “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things”(Philippians 4:8). We might be asking, “What does living self-controlled have to do with the mind?” Everything. In fact, all Christian living begins in the mind because as we think, so we live. If the world and its lack of self-control is shaping our minds more than the Word, then we will become like the force shaping us–the world lacking self-control or the Word developing self-control through Godly thinking. So, Christian, should we desire to live self-controlled in life, the type that pleases the Lord, start with the prayer of weakness, “Lord, I want to honor You by living unlike the world and be self-controlled. Teach me to renew my mind by Your Word through Your Spirit enabling me to live such a life.” Okay, let’s move into the practical application.
Now don’t be disappointed by the familiarity and simplicity of what it takes to build a life of God-honoring self-control. God has not made the Christian life complex. Yes, not easy, but not complex. And to live out a self-controlled life under the power of God’s Spirit, we must constantly remember who dwells in us. Think about it. The battle to live self-controlled is simply learning two things; to say “no” to the sins of our flesh with all its attitudes, passions, lusts, laziness, and everything else of our fallen nature and to say “no” to the world and all its allurements and temptations. And how do we say “no” to both? Remembering who lives within us and the power He brings to us. When any temptation by the world or ourselves comes knocking at the door of our hearts, we may immediately exercise self-control and say, “Nope. Not giving into you.” And the power to do so comes from the Apostle Paul’s testimony to the Galatians – “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”(Galatians 2:20). Simply by faith confront the temptations seeking to dishonor the Lord by our lack of self-control and giving into the temptation and say, “No. Christ in me is also self-control in me by His marvelous power. I will not yield.” To do so consistently will build a life of self-control and leave a sweet fragrance of Christ in our spheres of influence.
PRAYER: “Father, help me to maintain self-control in my speech, actions, and attitudes.”
QUOTE: “The world is marked by no restraint and Christians lacking self-control mirror the world.”