May 19, 2009

Self Control

I continue my read of The Practice of Godliness by Jerry Bridges. I am enjoying it and would recommend it as an easy, but thoughtful read. The chapter on self control was interesting to say the least. I will not do it justice by summarizing, but a key take away is that self control is essentially sound judgment (the ability to discern the right decision or action) and inner strength (the ability to carry it out). Self control comes from a lack of self indulgence.

The beauty of Bridges' book is that it is soundly grounded in Scripture, making it a profitable read for self examination and development.

16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NASB)

Self control is required in both body (think of gluttony or laziness) and mind (think of pride and lust). Bridges quotes passages of Scripture, I like these two as good summaries of what to do to develop self control:

23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)
11But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.
1 Timothy 6:11 (NASB)

While I usually use the NASB, I like the NIV action verb for the Proverbs passage more, guard. We are to guard against sin, to guard our hearts. When necessary we are to flee the sin (and this is something none us want to admit a need to do, even less actually do it).

What did I learn from this chapter? Self control requires judgment, strength, diligence. Self control requires the wisdom of when to stand and fight, when to run in flight, from sin.

Above all else, while the control required is self control, we cannot achieve it alone. We need turn to Scripture for wisdom and guidance, we need turn to the Lord for strength and conviction.

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