What is Self-Control, Really? The Mustang Perspective

Connect, Lead, Equip: What is Self-Control?

What is Self-Control, Really? The Mustang Perspective

The alcoholic who can’t make it through the day without a drink, the student flunking out of college because he never studies, the person who is always late for appointments, the compulsive eater, and the Christian who never grows because he doesn’t spend time alone with God all have something in common.

They all lack self-control.

The presence or absence of self-control is one of the most determinative factors in whether you will do well or have serious problems in your Christian life. It affects how you manage your time, your money, your ability to overcome temptation, your development of godly character qualities, controlling your temper and your tongue, regulating your health (through proper diet, exercise, and rest), and, most importantly, whether you spend consistent time in the Word and prayer.

Self-control is a critical life virtue because it impacts all of life. But, what does this mean from a spiritual perspective?

What is Self-Control?

Self-control comes from the word “strength” and refers to the strength or ability to hold oneself in.  It involves mastering your desires and passions.

Look at the following definition in the context of biblical reality…  

Self-control is the inward rule and regulation of every area of your life under the ultimate control of God’s Spirit in line with His Word.  

Do you see the key components? They are inward rule and regulation. Self-control begins on the interior of our hearts. Biblical truth shows us that is the strategic operating center of our lives (where we think, feel, and choose). Notice it is “every area of our life” that needs to be controlled. Some people have great self-control physically but none financially or great control vocationally but none relationally. We’re not self-controlled if we’re blowing out in some area.

Self-control is somewhat of a misnomer. Try as we might we just can’t seem to do what we so truly want to do. Our effort is no match for our desires, so what it’s really about is Spirit-control. A life underneath the guidance and control of the Holy Spirit of God.

Mustang Self-Control Illustration by Glenn C. Stewart:

“For some time I’ve been having trouble with my old Mustang. It’s been flooding. When I start it in the morning, no problem. But, once I run it and then turn it off, if it doesn’t cool down completely it will crank but it won’t catch for a while. I cleaned the carburetor but it still floods. When I pull into the garage, I have to leave the garage door open and preferably the hood of the car up, otherwise the fumes will fill the garage and filter into the house.

Now, if you are a mechanic, which I am not, you probably already know the problem and the solution, but it took me a while to discover it. You see, I had put a new carburetor on the car (not a stock one, but a better 4-barrel). What was happening was that the stock fuel pump had more pressure than the carburetor was designed to receive, so consequently too much gas was flowing in and flooding it. The solution turned out to be simple. I installed a fuel pressure regulator that controls the flow. It restricts it so the carburetor gets what it is designed to, not more.  Too much fuel creates dysfunction in my automobile.

Self-control is your life regulator that prevents too much stuff from flooding into your life and causing dysfunction. It’s not all bad stuff.  It can be good stuff, but there’s too much of it, so you’re hurried and harried and distracted. You’re living in overload. The buzzer’s been beeping a long time and you keep ignoring it. You need self-control.” What will you do today to create more self-control and more discipline in your life?

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