I was watching a video of John Piper once, and he was talking about bubblegum.
To be more precise, he was talking about self-control, and he illustrated it with bubblegum. He candidly admitted that he can't have whole packs of gum around him. Otherwise, he’ll eat them all in one sitting. He'll pop piece after piece – and then boom, the gum's gone.
So he promotes self-control in his life by not keeping whole packs of gum around.
Self-Control Vs. Self-Indulgence
Self-control is a slippery subject.
Every single human being struggles with it, a universal sickness of not knowing when enough is enough. We tend to lean into excess in so many areas – food, money, words.
Instead of controlling our desires, we constantly indulge them – recklessly, sloppily, carelessly, and dangerously.
There's a reason that Solomon writes in Proverbs: "A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls."
A lack of self-control leaves us spiritually defenseless. It exposes our weaknesses.
Self-control happens when we humble ourselves and discipline our hearts into submission to God. Self-indulgence happens when we give in to selfishness and let our hearts master us.
Self-control is caring for our bodies, minds, and souls. Self-indulgence is poisoning them.
And self-indulgence is at the root of so many other sins we struggle with – anger, cruel words, lust, impatience, jealousy.
Self-Control Vs. Godly Indulgence
Self-control, though, is not a Spartan existence of bare necessities. There is space and time in life for feasting and a kind of joyful, God-honoring indulgence. But there is no time in life for carelessness or selfishness.
There is no time for losing control and giving into the flesh.
How To Get Self-Control
Starving self-indulgence then is the key to gaining control. And we can only do that by the power of the Spirit. He is the one who empowers us to produce any spiritual fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, and certainly self-control.
Think about it. Before we were saved, we had no desire or reason for self-control. We were slaves to ourselves anyway, so obeying them was our primary passion. But now, our bodies, minds, and hearts aren't our own. We've been bought with a price. We now fight against our flesh to honor our true Master.
We sacrifice indulgence for service.
What are the areas in your life that you struggle for control in? Where are the places you find yourself defenseless and overindulgent? Is it bubblegum? Buying clothes? Social media? Sweets? Find it – and cut it off.
Self-control is serious business. The health of our souls is at stake, the fruit of our Christian lives. Rely daily on the Spirit to kill self-indulgence and chase self-control.
And then you'll be truly strong.