Self-control Is a Christian Virtue
A man visited a psychiatrist. He explained, “I’ve been doing wrong, Doctor, and my conscience is bothering me.” The psychiatrist asked, “So you want something that will strengthen your will?” The fellow replied, “Oh, no. I’d rather have something that would weaken my conscience.”
Konrad Heiden said, “Those who wish to transform the world must be able to transform themselves.”
WE NEED TO MASTER SELF-CONTROL
The wise man said in Proverbs 25:28, “a man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Self-mastery is mentioned as a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23) and a Christian grace (2 Peter 1:6). Peter calls on us to “[b]e sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
It will serve as a part of judgment. In Act 24:25, Paul “reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment” in front of Felix. In view of the end, again Peter says, “be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers” (1 Peter 4:7).
WE MUST EMULATE JESUS CHRIST
Johann Friedrich Lobstein observed: “If you would learn self-mastery, begin by yielding yourself to the One Great Master.” Jesus—remember—never sinned. Therefore, everything He did, He did at the right time, in the right way, for the right reason. Everything was right. How? How did Jesus exercise such great self-control?
- Jesus was committed to what was true and right (Matthew 3:15).
- He submitted Himself always to the will of God the Father (Matthew 4).
- Jesus did not give in to temporary impulses like the disciples did during the storm of Galilee in Matthew 8:23-27.
- Jesus did not seek revenge (Matthew 9:10-13).
- Jesus did not react (Matthew 9:24).
- Jesus did not control other men’s behavior but He always controlled the situation because He always controlled Himself (Matthew 12).
- Sometimes Jesus secluded Himself for a brief period of prayer (Matthew 14:13).
- Jesus always calmly, lovingly but firmly spoke the truth even to His closest friends (Matthew 16:23).
- Self-control is entrusting yourself into the hands of God, regardless of what that might entail. That’s how Jesus was able to endure and experience the suffering He did during His trial and crucifixion without reacting. He did that all of His life, from the beginning (Luke 2:49) to the end (Luke 23:46).
Lydia Huntley Sigourney said: “Self-control is promoted by humility. Pride is a fruitful source of uneasiness.” Similarly, the apostle Paul challenges us: “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (Romans 12:3).
Exercise self-control, and the fight against sin will be much easier.
Copyright © 2014 by Paul Holland, in Droplets of Living Water, September 17.