3 In the same way, teach the older women to lead a holy life. They must not tell lies about others. They must not let wine control them. Instead, they must teach what is good. 4 Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children.5 The younger women must control themselves. They must be pure. They must take good care of their homes. They must be kind. They must follow the lead of their husbands. Then no one will be able to speak evil things against God’s word.
If someone were to ask you if you exhibit self-control, what would you say? Do you have control over your mood? What about over your attitude? Do you have control over what you eat? Do show control when it comes to money and finances? What about what comes out of your mouth? Do you exhibit self-control in your relationships? Do your actions show self-control? What about your thoughts?
The thing about self-control is it’s not a one and done thing that can be mastered. It’s exhibited in all areas of our lives. Our relationships. How we act. What we say. What we eat. Our thoughts. Our money. It’s a continual challenge and constantly changing. What one person struggles with another may never have any issue with. And what one excels at may be the thing that drives another family apart.
In the reading for today, women are being instructed to exhibit self-control in their daily life. Self-control isn’t something that we see only required of one age or gender though.
We see God’s requirement for a life of self-control throughout scripture.
28 A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.
Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control.
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.
2 Peter 1:5-8
Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Simply put, self-control is something that God asks of all of us. So exactly what is self-control? What does it look like to live a self-controlled life?
When I looked up self-control in the dictionary, this is what I found: self-control is the ability to control one's emotions, behavior, and desires in order to obtain some reward, or avoid some punishment. Here’s the thing. While this definition of self-control may be what most of the world strives for, it’s not the one I find in the Bible.
2 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control.
In this scripture in Galatians we see self-control is part of the fruit of the Spirit. It is the discipline given by the Holy Spirit that allows Christians to resist sin. You receive the Holy Spirit when you have put your faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Once you’ve done this, the Holy Spirit works in you to produce self-control (and the other fruit of the Spirit too!). Self-control should be seen in your life not because you’re trying to receive some reward or avoid punishment, but because you are following Christ and He in turn is producing this in you.
Self-Control is hard. I love though that God doesn’t expect us to do it on our own. He’s given us a helper. Someone to guide us and lead us. Someone to lean on.
So what does it look like to live a self-controlled life?
Galatians 5:16 says “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
We all struggle with different things when it comes to self-control. Even with all those different struggles though a self-controlled life should always look like this: a life led by the Spirit.
My challenge for you today is to practice self-control in all aspects of life. Not self-control as the world sees it, where you just need to try harder to get control of your own emotions, behaviors and desires. My challenge for you is to practice self-control that only the Holy Spirit can give you. Get into God’s word, spend time with God in prayer, allow the Holy Spirit to change your heart. Experience self-control as only the Holy Spirit can give you!