Cultivating Self-Control

Lack of self-control leads to ineffectiveness and lack of fruitfulness.

To be enslaved to our desires does not befit one who is called to be holy as the Lord is holy (1 Peter 1:16). Therefore, in the Spirit’s power, we work to mortify the weeds of the flesh so that we may flourish in the fruit of righteousness (Rom. 8:13Phil. 1:11). The fight for self-control is suffused with great spiritual warfare.


When I worked in horticulture years ago, I learned an invaluable truth: “A weed is an undesirable plant.” Think about it. A weed is a plant, perhaps replete with shiny green leaves and colorful flowers, alluring in its own right—just like other plants. Yet, there is that word “undesirable.” How so? Well, a prominent attribute of a weed is that it is invasive. A weed saunters into the garden, surveys all of the beauty, and says, “I am taking over.” The prideful weed chokes out beauty and creates aesthetic chaos. A weed demands control.

This helps us when we think of all of the desires God has planted in us as human beings to cultivate as image bearers of our Creator. Food, drink, and sex are all good things in their God-given boundaries. Money is useful as an instrument in God’s kingdom. Fear keeps us from jumping off cliffs to our death. But think for a moment about the invasive nature of taking that extra plate of dessert, indulging in just one more drink, taking another lustful look, or allowing intrusive fears to set up camp in our minds and control us with anxiety. In other words, ordinarily good gifts from our Creator can become unruly thorns in the very core of our souls.

The Bible uniformly maintains the godly necessity of self-control. Proverbs 25:28 says, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

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