It’s good to have goals, something we’re working toward that gives us a better quality of life. Maybe it’s a better job, getting a college degree, having a stronger marriage, overcoming an addiction, or developing good habits with exercise and nutrition.
Whatever your dreams may be, you can achieve them when you understand that all things are possible with God’s help, hard work and determination to not give up. In other words, you’re going to have to exercise discipline and self-control.
Many times when people hear the words “discipline” and “self-control,” they groan. It makes us think of depriving ourselves or being denied the things we desire and enjoy. But I’ve discovered these characteristics are major keys to having the things I truly want in life.
The truth is, self-control gives us an amazing freedom to say yes to what we truly want and no to what we really don’t want.
In John 8:31-32, Jesus says, …"If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free". It’s important to understand that it’s not just hearing the truth that makes us free; it’s applying the truth to our lives that makes us free. And it requires determination and a commitment to consistently do the right thing—even when we don’t feel like doing it.
People often have the mistaken idea that freedom means we can do whatever we want, whenever we want to do it, and have no negative consequences. But that’s just not possible. The Bible teaches us that we will reap what we sow.
Galatians 6:7-8 says, Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
The Flesh vs. the Spirit
When the Bible talks about the flesh, it’s referring to the desires and cravings of our body and soul apart from the Holy Spirit. Many times our flesh wants something that the Holy Spirit says is not good for us; however, as we learn to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, we make progress toward achieving the goals we are striving to reach.
The Question Is, What Do You Truly Want?
I say truly because sometimes we want two things at the same time—the flesh wants instant gratification and the spirit wants what is best for long-term results.
For example, Dave and I ate at a restaurant that has really good lobster bisque. It’s so good, but it’s also very fattening.
Now, I can’t eat everything I’d like to have all the time and still maintain the weight that’s best for me. So I ordered a salad, but I asked Dave to order the soup so I could have a taste of it.
This morning, I was thinking, Maybe I’ll get a bowl of that soup for myself today. My flesh wanted the soup, but I had to stop and think about what I really wanted, because what I wanted in the moment was not what I would be happy with later on.
Get What You Really Want in Life
The amazing thing about self-control is that it gives me the freedom to do what I really want to do—rather than letting my flesh control me and dictate what I do. I’m free to overcome the temptation to do the things that will give me bad results and take me where I don’t want to be.
This is why self-control is freedom, not bondage. It’s Spirit-led management of your life, and the way to get where you really want to be.
I want to encourage you today to ask God to help you do what’s right—what’s best for you and not just what your flesh wants you to do in the moment. Stop and think: If I do this now, what will it mean for me later on?
Remember that every choice we make comes with some kind of consequence in our lives. I’ve seen so many people make poor choices that led to devastating results, destroying their lives. But with the Holy Spirit living in us as born-again believers in Christ, we can have godly wisdom in every decision we make.
In John 15:5, Jesus says, I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. Spend time with God every day…in prayer, reading and studying the Bible. Abide in Him, and He’ll show you how to live so you can have the life you really want!