When I taught 3rd grade we read about Helen Keller and I showed the television movie, The Miracle Worker*. During the scene when Helen eats off the breakfast plates of the family and Teacher, my students often commented on her behavior. The idea of taking from others and having no boundaries shocked them. The students, at ages eight and nine, knew it was wrong to behave with so little self-control. And yet, today there are people who have been allowed to act this way into adulthood.
We’ve all been around someone who believes their behavior is an exception. That other people won’t mind when they come in and take what they want, leaving a mess in their wake for someone else to clean up. It is a complete lack of self-control. Scripture tells us, Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control (Proverbs 25:28). Or the verse in Proverbs 16:32, Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.
In other words, we have not chosen to stop ourselves, we have chosen to run without forethought, without concern for others or the consequences. Self control is one of the most important character traits to develop. It shows that we understand the boundaries of others and that we respect them enough to stop at the lines they have drawn.
Again and again, I see people in my own life, people in the news, who have not learned the most basic skills to deny their wants. They may overspend and max out their credit cards, with no idea how to pay the bill when it comes. Or they may choose another selfish act with no intention of dealing with the fallout they create.
I may want to quit my job and stay home, but I know that there are consequences for something like that. My husband and I have chosen to only use debit cards or cash, no credit cards. It is one place where we apply self-control on our spending. Our sons learned to apply self-control at an early age. They knew controlling their impulses was required and expected. As parents, we didn’t have to worry about any tantrums in the stores, it wasn’t an option. Now as our sons enter their adult years, they are experiencing the fruit of their self-control.
Dear Ones, where do you need to begin working on your self-control? It is a conscious decision, there is no sliding into it, a person must choose and continue to choose to change a selfish behavior into something they control. Not the other way around. As a young child I listened to an album called Music Machine** which taught the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25) in simple ways that our hearts and minds would understand. The song for self-control is one that I memorized quickly. To this day, I find myself humming the chorus:
Self-control is just controlling myself
It’s listening to my heart
And doing what is smart
Self-control is the very best way to go
So I think that I’ll control myself
Best Beloved, let us check our impulses and learn to apply self-control. When we are able to control ourselves, we will be better equipped to be used by God. Our wants will be replaced by His desires and we will see the fruit of obedience and the blessing of walking with Him each day.