When we were children we questioned our parents asking them why we couldn’t do this or that. They had experience of life and wished to prepare us for it. They knew what we didn’t know or appreciate; therefore they disciplined us for our good.
It isn’t until we are older and gain experience of life that we realise the value of what our parents taught us. Without being disciplined to accept and comply with rules and regulations we would be hopelessly lost. We would not be able to cope from day to day.
As we mature we understand the value of being self-disciplined; for without self-discipline we collapse into a state of dissolution. We fall apart, not knowing which course to take, or what to do, or where to go.
We fail to look after ourselves – our bodies and our minds. Then we are no good for anything, and we become liabilities to others.
Now, Paul the Apostle, in his biblical writings, often referred to ‘self-control’, which is practically the same as ‘self-discipline’. He spoke of it in 1 Corinthians 9:26, 27: ‘Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.’
Paul recognised the need for controlling his body and his mind, and he wanted others to be like him (1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1). He wrote, ‘I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service (Romans 12:1).’
His reason was clear. His desire was for the Roman Christians to be a ‘living’ sacrifice. Their bodies were temples of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20) set apart to God, unlike those of the unconverted. Christians were distinctly different.
Paul’s mind was renewed to ‘prove’ God’s will (Romans 12:2). His course of action was clear.
To be an example to others and to please God, Paul exercised self-control. Thus, when advising Titus about the appointment of bishops he told him a bishop must be ‘self-controlled (Titus 1:7, 8)’.
All around us on a daily basis there are many who lack self-control. We only need watch the news on TV to see and hear of men and women who fall into disgrace because of their lack of self-control. They are the sort of people Paul wrote about in his second letter to Timothy, Chapter 3, verses 2 and 3: ‘For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without self-control, ……’
Their distorted morality reveals their lack of self-control. By contrast, believers through the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13) display the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ as presented in Galatians 5:22, of which the ultimate fruit is ‘self-control’.