The Discipline of Self-Control

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13

I once heard it said that good nutrition is about “making better bad decisions”.  Let’s face it, we will make bad decisions.  Because I have a weakness for sweets and salty/crunchy snacks, I have to plan for the potential that I will capitulate to a craving. I must have alternatives that will help me to make a better bad decision.  Continuing the theme of nutrition, I have learnt that sweet fruit is my alternative to candy.  Nut butter is my alternative to salty snacks.  Yoghurt is my alternative to ice cream. You get the drift…

My first step is to acknowledge the fact that I will be tempted to make a bad decision.  I plan for it by having a better alternative so that WHEN it does happen, I have already thought about it.  The same applies to our life goals.  I know some men, who because of their susceptibility to online pornography, set a cut off time if they bring work home.  Even if their task in not completed, they don’t take the chance.  They make a better bad decision…and go to bed knowing that God will honor their decision to maintain their sexual integrity.

God has promised to make a “way out” (other translations call this “a way of escape”).  Wouldn’t it be great, if we could identify what that way is ahead of the temptation?  I have learned that being intentional about “what if’s” is good for my goals.  Playing potential situations ("the tape") forward and rehearsing a response that removes me from tempting situations helps me to be prepared.

In the book of Galatians, Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit as comprising multiple virtues.  One of these he names as “self-control” (Galatians 5:23).  This is the ability to go against my nature or tendency.  Note that it is not so much about changing that tendency as it is about making a decision to not follow it.  I recently experienced a situation where I felt provoked to respond (to what I deemed an injustice against me). Although I felt satisfaction in my response, further reflection suggested that I could have handled it differently.  Self-control would have caused me to pause, deliberate, consult and decide.  Instead, I reacted.  The good thing is that as an avid fitness enthusiast, I know what self-control feels like.  I know how to tell myself “no”.  It takes effort to transfer this knowledge in one area of our lives to another.  At times we may have to enlist the help of an accountability partner to help with the “no”.  Whatever you have to do to develop this virtue in your life, do it!  Paul continues by saying “against such things there is no law”.  In other words, you can never go wrong if you develop self-control.  It ultimately becomes a place of discipline; an area where impulse is overridden by your brain’s executive function.

Whether you want to make better bad decisions or avoid impulsive reactions that are the source of later regret, developing the discipline of self-control is the junction through which you must pass.  Is that a struggle?  Open up about it.  Talk to others whom you trust and who love you.  Reach out to us at, if you need help.

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