Ahh, yes. Self-control. It's that virtue we find so admirable in another, yet so elusive in one's own life. And yet, the Bible tells us that the Spirit produces it in us--that it is a fruit of the Spirit's work in our lives! Self-control is elusive when we seek to muscle our way into righteous living. Instead, it is obtainable when we, by Grace, "keep in step with the Spirit."
"Therefore, if Scripture requires self-control from every Christian, it is obviously attainable by every Christian...whenever God gives a command, He also provides this grace to obey it." (p. 64)
This 4th chapter in Feminine Appeal, by Carolyn Mahaney, was once again a call to a biblical perspective, one where self-control is welcomed as safety rather than loathed as restricting.
"A man without self-control is like a city broken and left without walls." (Proverbs 25:28)
"When we recognize self-control as the virtue that spares us from sin's negative consequences, we will welcome it eagerly as our friend." (p. 67)
Of the five areas she discusses in light of self-control: eating, sleeping, thoughts, feelings, and meeting with God, I personally resonated most with the area of capturing our thoughts. It's so easy to allow your mind to go down a sinful path or pattern of thought, isn't it? I love what Martin Lloyd-Jones said, as quoted in this chapter:
"Most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself." (p. 74)
How true in my life, and perhaps yours! Our family's been memorizing Psalm 103 to help train ourselves with this very thing: to speak to our souls when we are tempted to forget why we praise Him.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindeness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like eagle.
You've heard my heart before about discipline in my time in the Word. I continue to strive for consistency, excellence, and self-control in this area, as time with the Lord clearly affects all other areas of self-control!
As we grow as Titus 2 women, and in particular, in the area of self-control, we must remember this: that it is not self-control that is our highest goal; it is worship of Christ. Our efforts to live godlier lives, to be more disciplined, to be more guarded by self-control, are all efforts that, as the byproduct of sanctification, leads us to the Cross, not away from it. Our greatest diligence in self-control, in itself, is ove no value to commend us to the Lord. Apart from Christ, it is but another form of self-righteousness. In Christ, the fruit of self-control can be freeing and joy. Let us strive as we perceive that it is the Lord at work in us. Let us put off and put on as we grow in our delight in the Savior.
How about you? Are you desiring change in this area in your own life?
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