This is part 3 of our Game Changers series:
Part 1: "Purity"
Part 2: "Patience"
What is a game changer? A game changer is an athlete or play that suddenly changes the outcome of a game or contest, or a person or thing that dramatically changes the course, strategy, character, etc., of something. Spiritually, self-control is a game changer — because without it, we cannot live how God wants us to live.
But let’s get this out of the way: practicing self-control is hard. Jesus says in Matt. 26:41 that the “spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Being a Christian doesn’t mean we’ll never have to deal with impulses, emotions or immediate reactions. But it does mean I can learn the right way to hold on to my integrity, even in the face of temptations, impulses and emotions. That means I must have control over my temper, my speech, my thoughts, what I put into my body, and even anything that is lawful.
Why must I have self-control?
It’s a sign of great character (Prov. 16:32, 25:28): If a city is defenseless, it is vulnerable and anything or anyone can get in. A lack of self-control is like throwing the front door of your life wide open, allowing Satan to come and go as he pleases.
It’s a mark of maturity: For a man to serve as an elder, he must demonstrate self-control (I Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8). A mature Christian has mastery over themselves.
It affects our influence (Matt. 5:13): We lose our influence if we live an uncontrolled life.
It affects our eternal destiny (I Cor. 9:24-27): For an athlete to be successful, they must practice self-discipline — diet, exercise, daily living, abstaining from substances and activities that would disqualify them. If I’m going to reach heaven, I must practice self-control. View self-control in light of judgment. Take this seriously because one day, we’ll stand before God and give an account for our life (II Cor. 5:10).
Heaven will be filled with people who so desperately wanted to get there. No one will accidentally get to heaven. Identify areas in your life where you lack self-control, and take the necessary steps to make improvements. We don’t live life in a bubble. Every decision we make doesn’t just affect ourselves. It also affects others. And when we lack self-control, others pay the price as well. But when we exercise self-control, we can be the people God wants us to be.