At the beginning of this week I decided that I was going to get back on track by eating healthy. On Tuesday morning when I arrived at the office, I noticed someone had left an unopened package of Oreos for everyone to enjoy. I immediately thought, “Oh great, I love Oreos! How am I going to resist sitting around the corner from them?”
As I sat at my desk, I couldn’t stop thinking about those delicious, crème filled cookies. The moment I felt the slightest hunger pang, I got up and ate a couple. You would think eating those few would have satisfied me, but it actually made me want them even more. I decided to skip lunch and indulge in more Oreos. I think I probably ate an entire row.
After a few hours of feeling guilty for my indulgence, I decided to eat a healthy salad. Later, as I arrived home for the day, my kids were already off the bus and enjoying ice cream sandwiches for their afternoon snack. I couldn’t resist that soft cookie outside and the strawberry, vanilla and chocolate ice cream filling, so I took one to my study to eat while I browsed Facebook. Boy was I feeling guilty. I told myself no more, but as soon as dinner was over, I realized that there were dark chocolate chips in the cabinet and I couldn’t resist eating two handfuls.
I blew it, big time and I knew the only thing I could do to make up for my lack of self-control was to exercise. So as soon as I put my kids to bed, I put on my running shoes, turned on the Biggest Loser and started up my treadmill. Toward the end of my 5-mile run, Dolvett Quince, one of the trainers on the show, was in the faces of the contestants yelling, “Regain Control!” That’s when it hit me – I needed to regain my self-control.
Galatians 5:23 tells us that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. The Bible also says in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline (self-control).” So God gives us the ability to have self-control, but we also have a selfish flesh nature that always wants to be lazy, takes the easy way out and always wants instant gratification.
Living a life without self-control will lead to a life of misery. If I continued to eat like I did the other day, it would eventually lead to obesity, disease and death. Spending too much money leads to a life of debt. Constantly thinking negatively leads to depression, bitterness and despair. Laziness leads to poverty. Giving in to drugs and alcohol leads to a life of addiction. Not being able to control your temper destroys relationships. And the list goes on…
So what happens when we are working at self-control and completely mess up like I did? We have to start again and allow the Holy Spirit to strengthen us. We have to be more interested in becoming who God wants us to be, over what pleases us now. We have to continually practice self-control in order to become a master at it.
Practicing self-control can be just like starting a new workout. Your muscles scream out in pain. You often find out that you had muscles you didn’t even know were there, but if you continue to work out, eventually the pain subsides and your body will get in great shape. The same is true for working at self-control. Our flesh will always fight back because it’s too painful, but we have to keep trying and relying on the Holy Spirit. Eventually we will become a master over what used to control us, but we have to be willing to endure the pain of discipline today instead of the pain of regret tomorrow!
Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.