I don’t know about you, but when someone says, “Self-Control,” I usually think about holding myself back before I do something bad. Like we already discussed, we may be controlling our anger, spending habits, or lust. There are plenty of things on the “bad” list that we can stop through the power of God’s self-control.
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God--having a form of godliness but denying its power. (2 Timothy 3:1-5a NIV)
It’s tough to fight those negative thoughts and get rid of them before they become words or actions. So, we gather together with others in the Church to help us work toward that end. We need to remember, though, that people in the Church are on a path as well. They aren’t perfect and they are taking steps in their own walk as well. Just because they are at a worship service, doesn’t mean that they walking together with God. You won’t be able to recognize them by their church attendance. It is by their “fruit” that you will know. You can tell by listening to their words and watching their actions.
They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:6-7 NIV)
Self-Control is not only an excellent gift to help us walk together with God. It is also an excellent barometer that can be used to measure where someone else is in their walk, too. When someone shows signs that they don’t know how to control themselves, we can adjust our picture of that person appropriately. You may be able to help someone without self-control, or you may need to follow Paul’s advice to Timothy.
Have nothing to do with such people. (2 Timothy 3:5b NIV)
So, how about you? Do you think about self-control as holding back from thinking, speaking, or doing bad things? Do you exercise self-control in this way? Are you able to identify where someone else is, even in the Church, by observing their self-control?