Proverbs 25:16 | Galatians 5:22-23 | 1 Corinthians 6:12 | 1 Corinthians 7:22

Isn’t slavery illegal? 

It is not much fun to lose control. Some people have an urge to be completely in charge of everything in their environment–that’s a bit extreme. Most people are fine knowing they can’t control everything. But nobody enjoys the feeling of spinning out and flying off the rails entirely. 

The problem is: you lose control little by little. It’s like that story about the frog in the pot who does not notice the water heating up until it’s too late. 

And it starts innocently. It starts with something you like.

Do you like honey? Don’t eat too much, or it will make you sick!

Proverbs 25:16 NLT

Honey is a very good thing. But the proverb says not to eat too much of it, or you will vomit. Is this proverb about honey? No, it’s about self-control.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Galatians 5:22-23a NLT

Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. It is literally a gift from God! But just like a puppy or a houseplant, it is a gift that needs nurturing. It takes practice and prayer to grow your self-control.

So maybe you can control yourself when it comes to honey. Okay, how about video games? They are fun, and they improve your hand-eye coordination. But have you ever played video games when you should have been doing something else? Maybe you just could not stop?

Or maybe, like Alex, you just can’t resist your phone. It dings or vibrates, and no matter what else you have going on, you have to check it. Someone could be trying to reach you with exciting news. Something important could have happened somewhere. You don’t want to miss it.

Or maybe it’s food. When you see sweets, you melt like chocolate. Or when confronted with a buffet, you absolutely must try one of everything.

Are food, phones, and video games good things? Yes, they are great things! But they are also terrible masters. Don’t become their slave.

You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.

1 Corinthians 6:12

What should you do if you find yourself chained? Follow Lawrence’s plan:

  1. Pray for self-control and deliverance from addiction.
  2. Turn off the triggers.
  3. Set limits.

Praying for self-control and deliverance is the most important thing. Start there, and keep coming back to this step.

Then, turn off the triggers. If you are a slave to your phone, your triggers are usually those notifications that pop up on your lock screen. With video games, the triggers might be certain friends or situations at home that set the stage for you to fire up the PlayBox or the X-Station (…or whatever the young folks are using these days). Schedule something else instead, so you do something healthier or more constructive.

Now let’s talk about setting limits: it can seem futile when you know you’re a slave to something. But you have to start by setting limits, then work at enforcing them. Pray about what limits to set, and ask for strength to enforce them. Listen with your spirit for God’s answer(s), then exercise your faith muscles by trying to improve with His help.

Nobody wants to be a slave. If you are going to be one, have Jesus as your master. He loves you and has good things planned for you. 

And remember, if you were a slave when the Lord called you, you are now free in the Lord. And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave of Christ.

1 Corinthians 7:22 NLT

Otherwise, keep yourself–or get yourself–free. Amen.

Questions for Group Discussion

  • How does it make you feel to think about giving up control of your life (or an area of your life)? Is this what God asks us to do? If you give God control of your whole life, how does self-control apply?
  • Is ‘losing control over something’ addiction? Or is there more to addiction than just losing control?
  • Is there something in your life that is controlling you? Even if not completely…more than you would like it to?
  • Is it wrong for a parent to control their children? Is there a difference between control and influence? 

Challenge: WLSCC

The great thing about this challenge is: we’re setting you up for a win…hopefully an easy win!

Be sure to follow the instructions and choose something you know you can overcome. Don’t get too ambitious and pick something big, which–let’s face it–you’re not so sure about. The goal here is to build your self-control muscles with a taste of success, so you can move on to bigger and better things.

The WLSCC (Week-Long Self-Control Challenge):

  1. Choose something against which to exert your self-control. This is a key step. You need to choose something that is not too easy (“I don’t even want that–this will be a cinch!”) or too difficult (“I’ve never been able to resist that–but I think I can this time!”). READ ALL THE STEPS, THEN COME BACK TO THIS ONE AND MAKE YOUR DECISION.
  2. Make the item accessible. Let’s say you chose chocolate cake in Step 1. Get a cake (or slice) and place it somewhere accessible (like the fridge) for a week. If you chose a slightly addictive phone app, move the icon to the first page of your home screen.
  3. Set up your challenge. This should be more about setting limits than total abstinence. Remember: Jesus drank wine, he just didn’t drink too much. You should eat a bite of the cake each day, instead of just leaving it to rot in the fridge. Or use the app for 10-minutes a day instead of totally ignoring it. 
  4. Make sure of your choice–then commit to your limits. If you are not sure you can keep the commitment, go back to Step 1. On the other hand, if you don’t see even the tiniest challenge in doing so, return to 1. If you are sure this will be slightly challenging (and not more), but you are sure you can do it, commit to the challenge.
  5. Mark your calendar and begin! You need a clear finish line, so be sure to specify the exact moment the challenge ends. Does it end exactly 168 hours from when it began? Does it end Friday night or Saturday morning? Does 12am on Friday night mean Saturday morning? If you don’t decide the moment now, you will either have to go well beyond it to feel like you really won.

When you reach the end of your challenge, send us an email and let us know your experience!