A Spirit of Self-Control

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You know how we often talk about willpower – most often our lack thereof? I read something interesting in my Bible this week. It really made me think about willpower, which is really another word for self-control, and all the areas in which people can experience a lack of self-control.

I’ve experienced my own lack of self-control when it comes to my eating and exercise habits. Thankfully, I have begun exercising the self-control that was there all along, but there are still many areas of weakness – in my finances, in my online time, in my selfishness, in the way I deal with my anger.

I’m sure you struggle with self-control in many areas, as well. I was surprised to read, though, where my self-control comes from – or, at least, where it should come from.


photo credit theaucitron on flickr

Scripture: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

Observation: Timothy was experiencing opposition to his message, due to his youth, his inexperience, and his association with Paul. Paul wrote this letter to encourage Timothy to continue to be bold in his faith.

We often hear this verse quoted when someone is scared or facing something that might cause them to be fearful about the unknown, but the quote usually stops after the word “power,” leaving off the end: “…love and self-discipline.”

Application: God’s Holy Spirit is a spirit of boldness, power, love, and self-discipline. If we have accepted Christa as Savior, His spirit indwells us. Fear, hatred, and weakness are not from the Holy Spirit; they are lies from Satan.

What strikes me most about this verse is that self-control (self-discipline) is included. I never thought of self-control as being part of the power of the Holy Spirit in us.

So often we think of willpower as something we have or don’t have – something that keeps us from falling into various traps of temptation if we can just be strong enough. However, according to this verse, if the Holy Spirit is within us, we have the power of self-control (and of loving others – even the unlovable – but that’s a whole ‘nother journal entry). We just have to let the Holy Spirit guide us.

This means when we give in to temptation (or to the desire to be hateful – or just fail to show love – to another person who, like us, is created and loved by God), we are giving in to Satan’s lies and our own weakness, rather than calling on the power of the Holy Spirit within us to help us exercise self-discipline.

Prayer: Father God, help me to let go of my own selfish weaknesses and rely on the power of your Spirit to be bold, loving, and self-controlled as I testify about You and Your love and as I serve Your people. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

What is God showing you lately?


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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. Awesome post. I think about self control often, especially Paul's statement, "What I should do, I don't and what I shouldn't do, my flesh makes me do anyway." (Of course, paraphrased, since I can't copy and paste from my phone). I can SO relate to Paul.

  2. Kris, thank you so much for sharing this.  Exactly what I needed to read this morning!  You have blessed my day (and my children's)!

  3. What a great lesson!  This is something I struggle with, also, and I'm trying to help my son to gain some.  It's actually liberating to think it's something we can ask God for, rather than trying to attain it all ourselves – not that there's anything we can't ask God for, but I tend to forget that, and put things into categories of "God" and "me."  Thank you so much for this post! – Robin

  4. Thank you so much for posting this.  I struggle with self-control, and with helping my children learn it.  I've always chalked it up to something I'm not strong enough in, in my own strength.  This is a kind of "aha" and a "duh!" moment for me, as it's never me being strong, apart from God, and everything I accomplish is in His strength, not mine!  I am going to pray this verse, specifically!  – Robin

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