This week, we will focus on three areas in which Christians fail to exercise self-control. This list is not meant to be exhaustive; rather it is meant to get us thinking about self-control and the areas in which we might not exhibit it. The three areas we will focus on are:
Before we deal with each area, let’s start by defining self-control.
“It is a [governing] or prudently controlling of one’s desires, cravings, impulses, emotions, and passions. It is saying no when we should say no. It is moderation in legitimate desires and activities, and absolute restraint in areas that are clearly sinful. It would, for example, involve moderation in watching television and absolute restrain in viewing Internet pornography”.
Why is self-control so important?
A lack of self-control opens the door to other sins.
- “A lack of control of our tongue…opens the door to all manner of defiling speech such as sarcasm, gossip, slander, and ridicule”.
- A lack of control of our eyes opens the door to watching pornography, or adultery.
Now that we have the definition and know why it is important, let’s turn to the first area where we commonly do not restrain ourselves, and that is in our:
Eating and Drinking
I have to admit, I personally struggle with self-control in this area, especially when it comes to sweets. I have a major sweet tooth, making it hard for me to turn down a counter full of amazing desserts. Even though it is difficult, I must practice self-control.
Why would it be important that I, and we, practice self-control when it comes to eating and drinking?
If we do not practice self-control with our eating and drinking, we may be doing a number of things:
(1) We may open ourselves up to health problems
- These could range from a heartache to a stroke or even to diabetes. All of which can either take our lives, or severely hinder our ability to function, which means our work and impact for God’s kingdom is then hindered.
(2) We may be weakening ourselves when it comes to other critical areas where exercising self-control is necessary
- We cannot pick and choose in what areas we exercise self-control. Instead, we must exercise self-control in all areas of life. For if we don’t, then we may be opening ourselves up to a lack of control in other more critical areas.
How do we exercise self-control in our eating and drinking?
(1) Remove the Temptation – The best way to exercise self-control in this area is by removing the temptation. For me, this means not keeping sweets on hand at our house. Or when I go to Starbucks, it means that I walk past the case of delicious looking pastries quickly, while telling myself they are too expensive and the calories are not worth it.
(2) Prayer – Beyond exercising sheer will, thinking about the calories, and the cost, we need to pray. Pray that the Lord would strengthen us in this area.
(3) Accountability – Along with prayer we need to develop an accountability system. Tell someone your struggles and your plan, then have them hold you accountable.
(4) Think on Christ – Lastly, we must realize our joy and comfort is found in Christ. It is not found in the food we eat or the drinks we drink. While we can enjoy food and drink, we need not run to them for our joy and comfort. Christ is our perfect comforter, who will never leave us, nor forsake us.
Questions for Reflection
- Do you struggle with self-control when it comes to eating and drinking? How do you handle it?
- Do you find more comfort in food and drink than in Christ?
- Have you thought of setting up an accountability relationship? If you have, what does it look like?
 Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 110