What Self-Control Really Means

What Self-Control Really Means

I arrived at the gym in the late afternoon, just after school let out—a mistake. Half the pool was cordoned off for swimming lessons, which meant that all free swimmers would have to cram, like proverbial sardines, into the other half of the water. I looked out over the crowd. Many bathers did not have room to stretch their arms without whacking someone else, much less enjoy the water. The pool was over capacity. I determined to come back another time, another day, but I mused on overcapacity all the way home. I wasn’t sure my packed schedule allowed for another visit soon.

Sometimes I stuff too much into my washing machine in an attempt to get everything clean in one load. Only problem—nothing gets clean when the washer is over capacity. I’d recently read of a party on a college campus. Not only were there many revelers, but too many of them had also spilled out onto  a tiny balcony designed for two plus a little grill, to tragic results. The balcony collapsed and took the Self-Control students down with it.

Too many plugs in the socket leads to a blackout wherein nothing gets juice. So, too, when much is asked of anything or anyone, above and beyond their designed capacity, uselessness, poor performance, lack of joy, and even disaster may result.

We often think of self-​­control as stopping ourselves from participating in something harmful. But often, self-​­control means moderating the amount of good we take on. Self-​­control means saying no to two ministries so that we might do one well. Self-​­control means not taking on too many hours at work to the detriment of the body. Self-​­control means carving out time for rest, reflection, and pleasure in a society which often equates value with busyness. Things and people regularly running at overcapacity eventually break down, black out, or collapse.

When I pack my life (or allow others to pack my life) with stuff to do, there is very little time to be: be Sandra, be still, be with Jesus and experience his presence and provision that day. Even the Lord withdrew from ministry, his work, to rest and recharge (see Luke 4:42; 5:16). What might you trim back to do, be, and enjoy what remains? Your body and spirit deserve to be treated gently.

Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control. Proverbs 25:28

You’ve been reading from The One Year Experiencing God’s Love Devotional by Sandra Byrd. Learn more HERE.