Today’s Scripture: 2 Timothy 1:7
“God gave us a spirit . . . of power and love and self-control.”
Self-control is the governing of one’s desires. D. G. Kehl described it as “the ability to avoid excesses, to stay within reasonable bounds.” George Bethune called it “the healthful regulation of our desires and appetites, preventing their excess.”
But self-control involves a wider range of watchfulness than merely control of bodily appetites and desires. We also must exercise self-control of thoughts, emotions, and speech. Self-control says yes to what we should do as well as no to what we shouldn’t. For example, I seldom want to study the Bible when I first begin. There are too many other things that are mentally much easier, such as reading the newspaper, a magazine, or a good Christian book. A necessary expression of self-control, then, is to set myself down with Bible and notebook and tell myself, “Get with it!” This may not sound very spiritual, but neither does Paul’s exclamation, “I beat my body and make it my slave” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
Self-control is necessary because we’re at war with our own sinful desires. James described those desires as dragging us away and enticing us into sin (1:14). Peter said they war against our souls (1 Peter 2:11). Paul spoke of them as deceitful (Ephesians 4:22). What makes these sinful desires so dangerous is that they dwell within our own heart. External temptations wouldn’t be nearly so dangerous if they did not find this ally of desire right within us.
Self-control is an essential character trait of the godly person that enables obedience to the words of the Lord Jesus, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23, NIV).