By Todd Shupe
The Bible teaches us that self-control is essential to living a Christian life. We must exercise our self-control or we become controlled by our weakness. Whether it is food, alcohol, drugs or pornography, the enemy knows our weakness better than we do and will encourage us to go to it rather than to God in times of need. Todd Shupe says that our lives can soon be dominated by our weakness and we are living completely in the flesh rather than in the Spirit. Self-control is the very essence of “dying to self” and living in righteousness with God. Our righteousness cannot and will not ever come from ourselves, but only as a means of grace from God as a result of totally surrendering ourselves to His will and becoming His disciple.
If you are struggling with self-control, former LSU professor Todd Shupe encourages you to first begin with prayer and ask God for His help. Then, go into the Bible and study and memorize some particular verses that speak to you and your situation. My “go to” verse when my patience is growing thin is Proverbs 29:11. “A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back.” We must remember that all wisdom comes from God. So how does one obtain wisdom? James 1:5 tells us that “if any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
The exercise of self-control will not only keep us away from our temptations, but will allow us to be a powerful witness for God. You may ask, “How can I be a good witness for God by exercising self-control?” The best witness is one who demonstrates his faith with his actions. St. Francis of Assisi encouraged people to speak the gospel wherever they go and use words when necessary.
Self-control will allow you to remain silent when verbally attacked. It will allow you to respond with love when confronted with hate. Self-control will also keep you pure when you are alone. Self-control will also keep you sane in times of great adversity such as a flooded home, divorce or loss of a family member. We freely and willingly yield control of ourselves to God. Instead of worrying about what will happen, former LSU professor Todd Shupe suggests that we stand steadfast in His promise of Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Self-control does not mean that we are to go it alone. Todd Shupe knows that life is tough and we need fellow Christians for the journey. We need accountability groups that are small, honest and safe so we can be vulnerable and encouraging to each other. Christ encouraged us to come to Him with our burdens and He will give us rest. Read Matthew 11 and then fasten your yoke to a friend.