What God Requires of You Before You Master Self-Control

Knowledge comes before discipline and self-control.
Knowledge comes before discipline and self-control. (iStock photo )

Have you ever wondered why it is hard to exercise self-control? An incident happened to me yesterday that illustrated the one thing required for self-control vividly.

I was driving home from a visit to my mother. As I drove along the main highway, my cell phone buzzed. It was a text from my husband Mike. Mike had read on our Nextdoor.com neighborhood website that a traffic light was out at a busy intersection that I had to go through on the way home.

He was warning me to avoid the area.

I was approaching the last road I could take to avoid it. I had a choice:

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1. Do I heed Mike's warning and use my knowledge about the back roads to take a better route to get home, or ...

2. Do I continue along the same road and take my chances that the traffic wouldn't be that bad?

I picked choice No. 1. I turned off on that "last chance" road and navigated the back roads until I got home.

On the way to Bible study later that evening, we decided to pass through that intersection since traffic was usually heavier on the opposite side at that time of day.

The traffic light was still out. We saw the people stuck in their cars on the westbound side, which was the way I had been traveling earlier.

I've never seen the traffic that bad.

I thank God and Mike for helping me to avoid the jam—and the frustration that would have come with it!

This situation reminded me of how people often stumble with self-control and a scripture that tells you what must come first.

The Scripture is 2 Peter 1:5-9:

"For this reason make every effort to add virtue to your faith; and to your virtue, knowledge; and to your knowledge, self-control; and to your self-control, patient endurance; and to your patient endurance, godliness; and to your godliness, brotherly kindness; and to your brotherly kindness, love. For if these things reside in you and abound, they ensure that you will neither be useless nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But the one who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted because he has forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins."

Do you see the word that precedes self-control?

That is right. The word is knowledge. With more knowledge comes more options. So to use self-control, it requires exercising the knowledge you have.

If you only knew one thing, then you'd just go in the direction you know. You don't have any other choice because you are ignorant of other options.

But increased knowledge gives you access to them. Unfortunately, many people decide that it is too hard to choose a better route. Why? Because at first, it doesn't feel as comfortable as the old one.

That is normal. Eventually your brain will learn to follow the new route just as well as the old one. What is required is faith that it will happen, plus persistence and time.

Great rewards await you when you take that better path. This is essential information if you need motivation in exercising your self-control.

Let's take a quick look at the words that precede knowledge, beginning at faith to bring greater understanding on this issue.

Everyone in Christ Jesus already has faith, enough to get us saved. We had "full assurance in the heart (faith)" that God's Word is true in the area of salvation (Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 12:3).

However, the degree to which we have and exercise the other godly traits in our Christian walk in our lifetime is entirely up to us.

Peter exhorts us to be diligent in building up godly character, which is accomplished through submitting to the Holy Spirit's daily leading. Diligence means paying "consistent and careful" attention to a matter.

Next is virtue. Virtue is a heart decision. Deciding to live virtuously means weighing God's excellencies against the pleasures of this present world—and valuing the former more than the latter.

You are willing to invest now in your Spiritual development because you value the future rewards. That is a moment-by-moment decision you must make with every choice you make.

Now, this is where knowledge comes in. Returning to my drive situation, I would have just continued on the road that I already know if Mike had not alerted me to the traffic situation.

However, he gave me new knowledge. So I had to decide what to do with that new knowledge.

Well, let's imagine that I had ignored that knowledge. I received his text but started thinking "I don't want to take the back roads. It takes longer, there are more twists and turns, and it takes me out of the way. I'll just keep driving the way I know and take my chances."

Now suppose I got stuck in the bad traffic after making that choice. I would only be in the same trouble as the person who was ignorant about the back roads, right?

Actually, I would be in worse shape! At least the ignorant person didn't have a choice. They were stuck in the traffic jam through no fault of their own.

But I had a choice because I knew better. If I had not heeded Mike's advice, then I would have been stuck in traffic—while replaying that moment when I could have avoided the trouble.

So not only would I have been stuck in traffic, but stuck in regret!

Think about this question:

What do you already know about losing weight and improving your health, but are not doing it?"

If you aren't already doing everything that you know and are able to do, then that actually puts you in a poorer position than someone who doesn't know at all!

So I am asking you to do three things with the information in this article:

1. Take inventory of what you already know to do about your health. Don't keep deceiving yourself that knowing better is enough to change (James 1:25). Take small steps in using the knowledge you already have and start today!"

2. Read and meditate upon the 2 Peter 1:5-9 Scripture to see what comes after self-control. Consider how a lack of self-control would impact someone's ability to demonstrate each of these character traits to their fullest extent.

3. Consider the reward that awaits you if you are diligent in these things—not only now on Earth, but in the enrichment of your heavenly bank account. Yes, we all have one. See Jesus' words in Matthew 6:19-20.

I hope you will agree that the challenges involved in taking a better route in your choices (self-control) are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in you (Rom. 8:18)!"

Kimberly Taylor is the author of The Weight Loss Scriptures and many other books. Once 240 pounds and a size 22, she can testify to God's goodness and healing power. Visit takebackyourtemple.com and receive more free health and weight-loss tips.

For the original article, visit takebackyourtemple.com.

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