Odds are high you will experience something beyond your control today. A long line, bad traffic, the weather, a sick kid, demands from your boss or confrontation with your spouse.
Do You Struggle with Control?
Here are a few tell-tale signs that you may be feeling out of control:
Feeling powerless can bring out the control freak in all of us. That nagging fear that life will spiral into chaos creates anxiety and the feeling of being unsafe.
This has been my life for
years a decade. The less control I had over the situation, the more anxious and fearful I became. Over time, I saw myself as a victim of circumstance, jerked around by every experience. I wasted a ton of energy trying to cram my health, marriage, family life, time and the opinions of others into a manageable, predictable box.
The Problem with Control
In her book, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, Amy Morin sites 5 consequences that result from trying to control everything:
- Trying to maintain complete control leads to increased anxiety.
- Attempting to control everything wastes time and energy.
- Being a control freak damages relationships.
- You’ll judge others harshly.
- You’ll unnecessarily blame yourself for everything when you fail.
Striving to control what you can’t control is like chasing after the wind. It’s wasted energy. It will tax you and your relationships, leaving you empty, frustrated and exhausted.
Know the Truth
The truth is that most of what you encounter in life will be outside of your control. You can’t control everything all the time.
But there is something that you can control 100% of the time.
The only thing the Bible tells you to control is yourself. Not your circumstances, others or even your future. Scripture makes it clear that you are in charge of you and God is in charge of everything else!
Train yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:7-8
But the fruit of the Spirit is…self-control. Galatians 5:22-23
What the Bible Says about self-control
In case you were wondering, self-control and self-discipline are not the same thing.
Discipline involves training yourself to obey a set of behaviors over time in order to get the result you want. You exercise to achieve optimal health, strength or weight loss. You set aside money so you can retire. You invest time with your spouse for a better marriage. You stick to a certain diet in order to reap long-term health benefits. These are choices you make in order to achieve a desired outcome.
Self-control, on the other hand, is for the purpose of godliness. It deals directly with sin and is a spiritual issue, not a behavioral one. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, something that is grown and cultivated in our lives as we resist sin and obey God.
The Greek word used in the Bible for self-control is Egkrateia, meaning, “the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions.” In other words, self-control means you become master over your own thoughts, emotions, impulses, passions and selfish desires.
Your enemy is sin, not your circumstances. No amount of self-discipline or religious rules will help you overcome your sinful nature. Only God Himself can overcome sin, and He’s provided you with His supernatural power to resist sin and live a godly life.
As believers, we now have the ability to control our every belief, thought, feeling and reaction. Through Jesus, we have been given authority and power over our “old selves” or sin nature (sin, impulses, rebellious desires, selfish bent). Our sin was “crucified with Christ…so that we would no longer be slaves to[it]” (Romans 6:6).
Therefore, do not let your sinful nature continue to be master over you, giving in to its every impulse and desire. Instead, choose to yield to the Holy Spirit and do what’s right so that you can experience peace and a Spirit-filled life (Romans 6:8-14).
Control or Be Controlled
“Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit” (Proverbs 25:28). If you do not learn how to have self-control over your own heart and mind, you will leave yourself defenseless against the attacks of the enemy.
Either you choose to control yourself or you open yourself up to being controlled by everything and everyone else. It’s as simple as that.
God has provided you with the power to be master over your thoughts, emotions and actions regardless of your situation. You don’t have to give in to sinful desires or feel crushed by the weight of your circumstances. Even when your life is falling apart, you can still remain completely unshaken.
Remember that decade-old control issue I mentioned earlier? Two weeks ago I abandoned my efforts to control my life and asked the Lord to help me control my thoughts, feelings and actions instead. Can I tell you?? It has made a world of difference! My stress and anxiety levels dramatically decreased and I now enjoy life instead of trying to control it.
The best way to control your life is to control yourself.
God has given you supernatural ability to believe truth, silence anxiety, renew your mind, guard your heart and do what’s right. Self-control is something you can learn from Him and practice every day!