This week's memory verse:
"So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." Galatians 5:16
The majority of the problems I have in my life right now are caused by my lack of self control. While I have lost some weight in the last two years, my weight loss is a LOT slower than I would like because I have trouble controlling my cravings and weak moments. My bank account is a lot lower than I would like to see it because I lack the self control to limit the amount of impulse buying I do...and that's not even for cool clothes...it's mostly poor planning for grocery shopping. My relationship with my daughter has very rocky moments, mainly because I speak before I think, and say things that just elevate arguments and disagreements instead of alleviating them. I get stressed out at work and at church because I lack the self control not to procrastinate.
How do I overcome my issues of self control? I really wonder about that question. I mean, I THINK I am doing good things...I do daily Bible study and write this message most days...that's good, right? I work hard at my job and try to be the best librarian/supervisor I can be...that's doing what I'm supposed to, right? I am a faithful friend and try to be a good wife, mother, daughter, sister...I don't drink too much...I don't swear (well, very much anyway)...I go to church and serve as much as I can...I pray and have grown in my relationship with God and try to rely on God instead of myself more every day...If I do all these good things, my logical mind wonders why I still struggle with self control issues.
Don't you think the above thinking....that we are doing good, why do we still struggle...is shared by a great many of us? We are never going to be perfect...we will ALWAYS have areas to work on. It's part of life...trying to control our impulses is a daily struggle and always will be. It doesn't matter how "good" we are...we all struggle! Even though that thought exhausts me...it also energizes me at the same time. I have a chance every day to do better!
This isn't a new phenomenon for people my age, or even for people of our century. People for thousands of years have been struggling with self control. Again, looking in the Bible for examples and for lessons to help us with our struggles, we find many stories of people, just like ourselves, who struggled with self control.
Read 2 Samuel 13:1-19
King David's son Amnon had a problem...he was in love with his sister. (Ok...that is one that I definitely DON'T struggle with!) His friend hatched a plot to get the girl alone with Amnon...Amnon didn't argue with the plan...he didn't rely on his self control to stop him. This plan brought about a situation that ultimately ended with Amnon raping his sister! (Who said the Bible was boring reading! LOL) After that terrible event, Amnon claimed to hate his sister...what really happened was he hated himself so much for his lack of self control in this very touchy situation and he ended up taking his hatred out on his sister, the very victim of his bad behavior.
Aren't we like that too...we just CAN'T say no to that piece of cheese cake...and then HATE ourselves afterward. Our arguments with our spouses or children accelerate to yelling and screaming and we end up saying things that we regret...only to HATE ourselves afterward. Many times it's our tongues that get us into the most trouble. We just can't seem to control what we say.
Read James 3:1-8
In these verses, James talks about how hard it is to control our tongues and what we say. That little part of our bodies can cause BIG problems. Our tongues can accomplish almost anything...or destroy it! In verse 8 James says that "no man can tame the tongue." We can try and try...we can do good, we can think well of ourselves...but ultimately, we ourselves cannot control ourselves. Only God can.
Only God can control us...but we have free will right? God doesn't just reach out and grab us like puppets and make us do the right things, right? So, how can God control us? We can GIVE him control. We can learn to rely on him more often...we can surrender more of ourselves to Him. This is NOT easy! It's a struggle because our selves are very strong. I have discovered that some days are easier than others to think about God...to pray for guidance...to give Him control of situations...it takes CONSTANT effort...that's why it's so hard!
I can give myself a break in one way...I know that I will NEVER have total self control in all areas of my life...I will NEVER be perfect...I will ALWAYS have struggles. That takes the pressure off a bit...I don't have to TRY to be perfect!!! But...I can try to keep God in my thoughts more often...I can reach out to him more often BEFORE I speak...Before I eat that cheesecake...Every day of my life I can keep trying. When I give up and quit trying to do better...that's the day that I have truly failed. That means that I have not only given up on myself, but given up on God too. I don't want that for myself, and I don't want that for you either!
Are you struggling with self control today? WELCOME TO THE CLUB! God knows that we struggle with ourselves every day...He wants to help! Join me in reaching out to Him more often and learning to rely on Him more often...He doesn't want us to be perfect, He just wants us!