Self-Control II

6. Self-control is not only a character trait it is a form of energy in us. As we exercise self-control resisting a second helping of Marion Berry cobbler with ice cream we are using energy that we can call “will power”. Like every other type of energy the “will power” we have in us is limited, meaning we can run out of it. Many people who relapse on an addiction will do so in the evening because they have run low on “will power.” If we are serious about winning the temptation battles in our life we will learn how to steward our “will power” supply. Some suggestions; don’t spend hours on the computer, iPad, or cell phone in the evening by yourself if you struggle with porn, computer games, or on line gambling. I have on my car a fuel rate gauge which tells me at any given time what my miles per gallon of fuel consumption is. The other day I was pulling a heavy trailer up a steep hill and it went way down to 6 miles per gallon. There are times when the amount of “will power” being consumed in order to resist a particular temptation is very high. The main issues are time of day, availability, presence of accountability or not, ease of committing the sin, and mood determined by earlier events. A recovering alcoholic would be wise not to spend his evenings in a bar, especially with others who are drinking. Another key to stewarding “will power” in us is to turn disciplines into habits as much as possible and as soon as possible, because habits take very little “will power” to maintain. Reading your Bible everyday for 30 minutes starts out as a discipline but if faithfully done everyday it will gradually become a habit. That is another reason why everyday, everyday is so important. Regularly missing even one day a week will keep your Bible reading from becoming a habit and it will continue to use up a large amount of your “will power”. Probably the most significant factor in reducing the amount of will power required to maintain self-control over a temptation is accountability. Years ago I traveled to an Eastern State to speak at a church. After I had checked in to my motel room I got a phone call from a lady who saw me enter the motel by myself, and asked if I wanted company. After I said “no thank you” I got to thinking about how easy it would have been to have answered “yes”. After that when a church or group called and asked me to speak I agreed if they would pay for two plane tickets instead of one. The most powerful influence to godly living in my life apart from God is Patty. With her by my side on trips there was zero temptation to watch the wrong stuff on television and she took any phone calls. In that environment there was very little consumption from my “will power” reservoir. A basic law of life is, “anybody will do anything if given the right set of circumstances”, so the key is to control the circumstances in your life to the highest degree possible.

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