Self Control

“And in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance . . .” (2 Peter 1:6).

In Peter’s day, the word translated “self-control” was used to describe athletes. The successful ones abstained from sexual activity and an unhealthy diet for the sake of disciplined training exercises. You practice personal self-control when you control your desires and don’t allow them to control you.

Personal self-control demonstrates the certainty of your salvation.

Let me share some practical tips that have helped me with self-control.

  1. Start small. For example, begin by cleaning your bedroom or office, then extend that discipline to the rest of your home.
  2. Be on time. This is more than good advice; it’s based on Scripture (see Eccles. 8:6; Eph. 5:15-16). Learn to budget your time, and discipline your desires so you can arrive at places on time.
  3. Organize your life. Use a schedule book, or make a daily list of things you need to do. Don’t let circumstances control your time.
  4. Practice self-denial. Periodically refrain from something that is all right just to remind yourself who’s in charge. Sometime when you want a hot fudge sundae, have a glass of iced tea instead.
  5. Do the hardest job first. Doing this will keep you from letting the difficult tasks slide by undone.
  6. Accept correction. Constructive criticism helps you become more disciplined because it shows you what to avoid. Acknowledge the courage of the one who corrects you. It’s almost always easier to keep silent, but that person, especially if he or she is a believer, spoke up because he or she likely had your best interest at heart.
  7. Welcome responsibility. If you’re qualified for a task or assignment that arises, such as opportunities at church, volunteer occasionally. That will prompt you to be disciplined and organized.

Some of the items on my list may not seem very spiritual and may even sound silly. However, I’ve found that pursuing discipline in the secular realm often carries over to the spiritual. Any theology that separates faith from practical conduct is heresy. Self-control is a great Christian virtue and solid proof that one’s salvation is genuine.

Suggestions for Prayer
Ask God to help you get better control of an area in which you lack discipline.

For Further Study
Read 1 Corinthians 9:25; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8; 2:2. How do those verses underscore the importance of self-control? Explain.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997.