The other day while doing research for upcoming sermons, I ran across an article by freelance writer, Patrice Lewis. I have never heard of her, but the title of the article grabbed my attention. The title was "We Ain't Got no Self-Control". So I decided to read this article and part of the article stated: " What is self-control, anyway? And why is it important? Quite simply, self-control is the ability to regulate our personal impulses and reactions. It’s the realization that behavior (not moods or emotions, but behavior is often a choice. Self-control is often referred to as self-regulation. Why is it important? The answer is eerily simple: If you can’t control yourself, someone else must control you. We know we must control our young children to keep them from running into the street or engaging in other dangerous activities. Most parents instinctively know they must teach their children to control themselves (self-regulation) because Mom and Dad won’t always be there to keep Junior from doing something unsafe. But while most parents teach their children self-regulation for life-and-death matters (such as not running into the street), far too many parents fall down on the job when it comes to other issues of impulse control. If I had to pick a single behavioral quality I want my kids to acquire during their growing-up years, it would be self-control. When you think about it, a lack of self-control has led to many of the problems our country is currently facing. Overspending, overeating, drinking or drug use, flash mobs, theft, lack of work ethic, abortion, STDs … the list is endless."
Daniel Webster, the former Massachusetts' Senator and Secretary of State once said, " Educate your children to self-control, to the habit of holding passion and prejudice and evil tendencies subject to an upright and reasoning will, and you have done much to abolish misery from their future lives and crimes from society."
Edmund Burke, an Irish member of Parliament said, "Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites, — in proportion as their love to justice is above their rapacity, — in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption, — in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters."
Charles C. Noble said, "First we make our habits, then our habits make us."
Benjamin Franklin stated, " “Educate your children to self-control, to the habit of holding passion and prejudice and evil tendencies subject to an upright and reasoning will, and you have done much to abolish misery from their future and crimes from society."
Michel de Montaigne, a French write during the Renaissance said, "Not being able to govern events, I govern myself".
Joyce Meyer put it self-control in more human terms when she explained it this way: "“I tell you what when I see chocolate chip cookies I can’t just eat one. I’ve got to eat a dozen. I don’t have any self control. Well, come on! You’re just talking yourself right into the pit! You do have self control, and you need to start looking at those cookies and saying, “If I want you I’ll eat you, and if I don’t I won’t!” Come on! Talk to that plateful of food! I am born again and baptized in the Holy Ghost! I have the power of the universe on the inside of me, and if I do not want to eat you I will not eat you! I mean how do you expect to defeat the devil if you can’t even defeat a chocolate chip cookie!?!?”
The bane of American society today is our lack of self-control. Rather than seeking to control our passions, we seek to legitimize them and normalize them. All we have to do is look at the incredible spending-addiction of government to see this being played out. In America, and even in California, we do not have a tax problem(i.e. a lack of tax revenue), we have a spending problem. Each year, the average America now works 107 days of the work calendar to pay the taxes levied against them. That's a lot of cash going to our local, state and federal governments.
But our government is such an easy and safe target. Our culture is an easy and safe target. Perhaps we should put a target on ourselves and the church. Does the church have high divorce rates? If you consider 30% a high divorce rate, then the answer is "Yes". Does the church have problem with obesity? Does the church waste time lazily viewing TV for hours at a time? Does the church surf and view pornographic web sites? Does the church have maxed out credit cards? Does the church shop to relieve stress? Does the church have closets full of clothes and yet still purchasing new clothes? Does the church have addiction issues? Does the church have consistent time in God's Word every day? Does the church tell others God's plan of salvation? Does the church...You can fill in the blank.
The best quotes are not those which come from world leaders, but from God's very own mouth. II Timothy 1:7 says, "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but of power, of love and self-discipline".
In Galatians 5:22-23, God's Word says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is...self-control."
This is a reminder that God's Spirit strengthens us to say "Yes" to those things which are beneficial and "No" to those things which are destructive. We don't have to reach down deep and suck it up. We simply have to listen and heed the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Instead of asking for more "things", we need to ask God to give us self-control. Take some time to honestly view your life, examining areas where you need self-control. Take some time to confess and then invite God to do what only He can do...Give us self-control!