Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control. That’s quite the list! That last word though is what we are focusing on today. What scriptures on self-control apply to our lives? What is Biblical self-control or self-discipline? And possibly the largest question of them all, how does it apply to our biblical motherhood?
Self-control doesn’t get a lot of traction in modern society. Other ‘self’ words such as ‘self-care’ or ‘self-love’ are much more of a hot-button topic, but I would love to make the argument right now that learning self-control is going to serve you much better than self-love or self-care ever has. Let’s explore the concept of self-control in the Bible!
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What Does the Bible Say about Self-Control?
I was looking at a donut and an apple. The apple won. Was it self-control? No, in my case, the apple was an easy choice. However, was it always that way? Thanking back 10 years, I guess the answer is no. At one point in my life, I probably would have chosen the donut, muffin, or other sugar concoction instead of the piece of fruit.
Years of self-control and self-discipline not only made the healthier choice easier to make, but it made it into an instinct. There was no pondering the decision, no looking at the donut or muffin with temptation, and no longing to look back at the sugary breakfast table.
You see self-control is important because they produce in us godly results.
Food is a common self-control topic, but we shouldn’t only apply it to our food and fitness. How about your daily Bible reading? Is that an instinctive choice? What time do you get up in the morning? Or personally my least favorite one right now; how often do you get frustrated with your children and snap?
Benefits of Self-Control
Practicing self-control is a life-long practice. Once you gain discipline in one arena, you inevitably will need to work on another. The desires of the flesh are a tough master to control! So, what’s the point? Here are five life-long benefits of living a life of self-control
- Creates a Christ-like attitude
- Strengthens your walk with God
- Produces righteousness (James 1:19-20)
- Creates strengthened relationships
We can take these and apply them to our motherhood as well. Self-control will strengthen our mothering journey when times get tough. Sometimes it’s easier to let the toddler scream at you than get up and calmly work through the behavior.
Other times it’s easier to feed the children chips and salsa instead of making that healthy dinner you know is better for them.
Although the momentary pleasure of letting go of self-control may feel good at the time, the benefits of exercising self-control in our mothering far outweigh the fleeting pleasure. Look at these scriptures on self-control and truly let God work on your heart.
Why is self-control a fruit of the spirit?
What is the definition of self-control?
restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desiresMerriam Webster Dictonary
How about self-discipline, are they the same?
correction or regulation of oneself for the sake of improvementMerriam Webster Dictionary
Although the definition is slightly different, the end result is basically the same. Some sort of self-restraint is used to create a better or more godly result.
So why is it mentioned in the Fruits of the Spirit?
We live in our sinful nature, which is in stark contrast to the nature we want to put on in Christ. When we practice self-control, we are resisting the very thing that our sin-nature wants. We need self-control and discipline to live a godly life.
Examples of Self-Control in the Bible
Does someone from the scriptures come to mind when you think of self-control or even a lack of self-control? I’ll tell you who comes to my mind.
The first one is Job. He is an emblem of self-control and discipline. As his world fell around him, he stubbornly declared that God was still his master. He never blamed God for his troubles.
Can you think of an example of a lack of self-control?
Sampson comes to mind immediately. His kryptonite was a woman, and he suffered a severe lack of sense and self-control when it came to them (Judges 13-16).
As you work your way through these scriptures on self-control, you can access all the resources and more by clicking on this link or the image below. All the resources are completely free with no sign-up required.
10 Bible Verses on Self-Control
Remember that choice between an apple and a donut? That choice was pretty insignificant in comparison to the other choices we are faced with each day. Especially in motherhood, we are challenged with choices every day that test our self-control. So often, I want to allow myself to dissolve into fits of rage at my children, and sadly, it’s happened too many times. Parenthood reveals sin that we didn’t even know was there, which hopefully by prayer and work leads to sanctification.
At the end of all things, when I’m standing in front of Jesus my Lord, I can hope and pray that I will look back at what he reveals and at the very least see growth in myself as I struggled and fought to find a life of self-control with grace and truth.
Freedom comes when we start honoring the discipline of self-control. One of the most cited scriptures on self-control is found in Galatians.
Why practice self-control or self-discipline? It is an act of growing in Christ. As God grows this Fruit of the Spirit in us, we become more disciplined in dying to the flesh; which allows us to live more in Christ!
Self-control is a fruit of the spirit, so you bet your bottom boot that the Bible has something to say about it!
Galatians tend to be the starting point many people go to when learning or researching self-control. Paul structures his talk on the Fruits of the Spirit by first speaking about the sins of the flesh. Basically, everything that the fruits of the spirit are not.
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.Galatians 5:19-21 ESV
Isn’t it interesting that many of the things listed here are a direct result of a lack of self-discipline or control?
And then Paul transitions to the flip side and describes what it looks like to walk in the spirit of the Lord.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.Galatians 5;22-25
Ever been tempted by something and thought to yourself ‘This is too hard.’ It may be hard, but you have a Savior who was tempted in every way you have been and still was able to honor his Heavenly Father by being completely sinless.
Have you ever struggled with sin in your motherhood and thought, how can Jesus, who wasn’t a mother understand what I am going through? I’ve actually had those same thoughts and I’d like to direct you to a resource that was instrumental in changing my perspective on this. Jill Savage’s book, Real Moms, Real Jesus, will walk you through the very reason Jesus truly emphasizes everything that you are experiencing through your motherhood journey.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.Hebrews 4:15 ESV
Although this verse says ‘man’ it’s safe to assume that we can apply its principles to women as well. Have you ever felt your walls of defense have been broken down? Have you ever wondered if that breach in your personal strength was a lack of self control or self-discipline?
Have you ever thought, I’ve already messed up, what’s one more? What is one more harsh word after an entire argument? What is one more cookie after you’ve already eaten 3? What’s one more day without opening the Word of God, after a week of not doing it?
Do you see how easy it is to let your walls of defense crumble?
Stand firm, and know when enough is enough.
A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.Proverbs 25:28
The entirety of Titus 2 continues to be one of my favorite chapters of scripture as it edifies and admonishes us to seek out the godly living and be a living sacrifice for Christ. Proceeding this passage is a call to teach sound doctrine and for younger women to be discipled by older women and for younger men to be disciple by older men. It’s an excellent chapter of scripture to remind us of godly characteristics.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.Titus 2:11-12 ESV
2 Timothy 3:1-5
Anger can completely overwhelm a person. Our motherhood is not even safe from it. I’ve spoken to a frightful number of women who never experienced anger until the ‘little years’ of motherhood.
Instead of being ashamed by the sudden and uninvited emotion of anger, perhaps we should flip the script and look at it as a calling to press further into Jesus.
Jesus understands our anger and as we exercise self-control we will once again, find that he will fulfill us more than the anger could ever have.
These scriptures on self-control should anchor our resolve to press further into Christ and his goodness.
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV
2 Timothy 1:7
This passage is often cited when dealing with the issue of self-control. Often a lack of self-control comes from a place of fear. Fear of the unknown or a lack of personal control over a situation. This verse reminds us that when situations come that trigger an emotional response, God has not given us a spirit of fear! Instead, he has given us power and self-control to combat or confront the situation. Be encouraged by that sisters in Christ, it’s a powerful reminder!
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.2 Timothy 1:7 ESV
1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.1 Corinthians 10:13
We’ve kept scriptures on patience last for a reason. Self-control and self-discipline are not an ‘overnight’ victory. No, we will be spending our entire life learning more about self-control and self-discipline. Just when we think we’ve ‘got it’, God will send something else our way to remind us how much we still need to rely on Him in the face of our natural desire for the flesh.
Each of the fruits of the spirits will be cultivated for a lifetime. None of them will be perfect in us until we arrive at heaven’s gates.
1 Corinthians 9:27
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV
This passage written by Paul has always stumped me. Why disciple your body and go through strict training when you are preaching the gospel? It’s not about earning salvation, but about fulfilling one’s mission of preaching Christ to others. We can learn a lot from Paul about the practice of self-control in these passages.
Paul remains in this state of continual training because he does not want to be disqualified. He is not talking about losing his salvation as a result of sin. Paul’s own teaching is very clear that salvation is a gift, not something that comes as a result of strenuous effort (Ephesians 2:8–9). The prize he is running for is the crown of recognition from Christ that he has served well. In his case, this will include the lives of all of those who have believed in Jesus as a result of his preaching. The context is Paul failing to obtain his goal of winning others, not somehow earning salvation.Read remaining commetary here.
2 John 1:8
Again this verse does not refer to losing your salvation, but rather being rewarded by Christ. When I personally read this verse, I am spurred on to do good works, love those around me, and trust that God’s plan is a sovereign and wonderful plan for my life. I find that often during the busy and frantic days of motherhood, we can get so tossed around by to-do lists and screaming children, that we lose ourselves in our work.
Mama, you have a powerful ministry opportunity with your children and your household. Don’t be captured by the thoughts that you don’t have a ministry on this work once you are a homemaker or have children, it’s in these times that you have a powerful ministry.
Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.2 John 1:8 ESV
What is the will of God when it comes to self-control? Well although I tend to believe it varies slightly from person to person, we can conclude with all certainty that God does want us to possess some level of self-control in our lives.
We end with this verse from Proverbs 29:11 that reminds us that we are a fool when we give way to our anger. Be strong mamas and be a wise woman who holds back her anger when the urge to explode strikes. Often we find ourselves in situations where we give a fast or ‘knee-jerk response’. These are moments in which we need to become practiced in the renewing of your mind. It will take time to cultivate that response, but when we do we will reap a great reward. Break the pattern of this world and turn to a more godly response like showing the fruits of the spirit.
A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.Proverbs 29:11 ESV
Self-Control and Own Spirit
But what does this all have to do with our mothering journey? How do we take these scriptures on self-control and make the rubber meet the road? I want to invite you to do three things right now.
- Evaluate your heart. Is self-control a struggle in your mothering journey? Do you struggle with giving control over to Jesus? Do you struggle with yelling, angry gossiping, healthy eating, reading your Bible regularly, or discipline? Chances are there is something that led you to this article, something that is pulling on your heart.
- Choose a verse. I want you to choose one of the verses above that really prodded your heart. Seek God’s Word as you work on your self-control
- Give your motherhood ministry to God. Seek God above all else. Humbly ask him for help as you seek to surrender your will for God’s will.
God made us as nurturers. He made us as mothers. It’s a gift, but that does not come without its own set of ‘sin temptations’. We are often tempted by the desire to be less than what God created us as.
Mama, you can do the thing! You can be the mother God created you as. Seek him as you seek to learn self-control in your motherhood. May these scriptures on self-control be a blessing.
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