Self-Control is a Muscle You Must ExerciseSelf-control is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “restraint exercised over one’s impulses, emotions, or desires.”

But self-control doesn’t come naturally for most people. It can be difficult not to give in to triggers and temptations. Old habits die hard; healthy habits take work. It’s easy to get through the end of a hard day and feel entitled to spend the evenings escaping by turning to overeating, watching porn, or on the couch binge-watching television or playing video games.

Where does self-control come from? The Bible teaches that self-control comes from two things.

First, it’s a fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) says, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

Second, it’s the result of spiritual growth. Peter, who learned some difficult lessons about self-control himself, wrote this:

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.—2 Peter 1:5-7

How does someone develop self-control? Because self-control takes discipline, it is a muscle that needs exercise to grow. One gains strength when one walks closely to God and allows the Holy Spirit to flow through them. God will develop His character in them as they persevere, including self-control. Developing stronger self-control takes commitment and practice; it won’t just happen overnight.

So, when triggers or cravings surface throughout the day, a routine can help overcome these. Healthy habits can also help to prevent too much spare time in an individual’s day, giving an individual less time to think about or abuse substances.

Make it a habit to:

Just as muscle strength increases with exercise, self-control grows when it’s exercised regularly.

By Steve Arterburn