Are you always trying to figure out why your life is out of control? Is there chaos even in the peaceful times? Is reverse your common direction rather than forward? You are not alone. There is only one way to steer your life to have what you desire, self-control. Jesus has much to say in His Word about controlling yourself so you can have contentment. My books are all written with this premise in mind. John 10:10 tells us, “The thief, does not come except to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John describes who the thief is in verse one of chapter ten. The premise is that anyone who tries to lead you into any other life besides the abundant life is a thief. Those who say they are of God and lie to you do not want you to have the abundant life Jesus came to give. They are the thief’s He refers too. I want you to have the abundant life Jesus has for you even if it is away from me. I will see you again in heaven, you can be sure of that. I write the truth, so you can see the wonderfully abundant life you can have if you love Jesus. I want you to know His voice, so you can follow Him. I want you to learn to control yourself, so you can do what He asks of you without hesitation.
You will need to pull off the road of life for a little while at a RV park to camp on a few verses to help you find the path Jesus has paved for you. He has paved a path just for you, but you will need to find it. To find it you have to garner information. The information you need can only be found in the Bible. The information you need is clear, it is wise, and it is functional. The Word of God will help you to create boundaries in your life (Matthew 5:37), listen as God directs your steps (Proverbs 16:9) and set your thoughts toward that plan (Jeremiah 29:11).
Self-control comes first by creating boundaries in your life, setting your mind to say “yes” and to say “no” when warranted. You have to set your mind to say “yes” to Jesus and “no” to the world no matter what the circumstance. Knowing what you shall and shall not be allowed to do is very important for travelling on the narrow road. The only way to know exactly what Jesus is requiring of you is written in His Word. He has boundaries for you to set your mind toward, from His Word, which you will not know unless you study the Bible. I have called the Bible the “Life Skills Encyclopedia” because it has a treasure trove of information that can be used to keep us out of the ditch. Setting boundaries based on the “yes’s” and the “no’s” of the Word will be absolutely functional for learning self-control. Knowing what to say before you are confronted with an issue is paramount to having self-control. Having self-control will make you successful at maintaining the abundant life as you allow Jesus to direct your steps.
The light to every one of your steps is the Word (Psalm 119:105). John one tells us the Word is Jesus. We plan our way in our heart but the Lord directs our steps (Proverbs 16:9). In other words, Jesus allows you to make the plans needed, using self-control, to go the step He has directed you to go in. As you make the plans He leads you to make the appropriate plans. If you take a step to serve self you might just step right into the ditch perched so precariously beside the path Jesus has for us. He puts a ditch on the right and the left of your path to teach you the narrow path represents what the world’s plans look like. I can promise you, from experience, the ditches get smaller and shallower as you learn how to follow Jesus using His Word. When you learn to control yourself and your decisions while planning to stay on the narrow path the ditches seem further away. You fall into them less and take less time to get out when you do fall in. The Light you use to get out is powerful and brighter than bright itself. When you know God is thinking about you while you set your mind to His plan it gives you more power to continue steadfastly to self-control.
It is impossible to believe that Jesus does not know who you are when He actually created you for this life but God, in His great mercy, reminds every believer in His Word on every page. Jeremiah 29:11 says He knows the thoughts he has toward us, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. You must change the way you think toward the plans God has for all of us. If anyone insists on thinking worldly thoughts she will never hear God telling her where to go and how to get there. The Lord speaks to those who love Him and if you love Him you will hear Him. Following the world is contrary to following God. Thinking like the world is also contrary to God. If we think like the world we will constantly question the direction God is sending us. The narrow path needs our full attention specifically because it is narrow surrounded by big ditches. Our path cannot be divided between the world and Jesus. A divided mind will always be fruitless and never find contentment let alone the abundant life.
This week take these three verses Matthew 5:37, Proverbs 16:9 and Jeremiah 29:11 to your study room. You have listened to what I have to say and what God has to say through me but what does God have to say to you. What is He telling you through these verses? Let Him talk to you as you ponder each of these verses in the context of obtaining the abundant life promised by our Jesus. How can you obtain that life filled with contentment? Only He has the answers but if you do the work I promise He will provide the means.
This blog is in conjunction with Episode two on the Pursing Biblical Boundaries Podcast posted with WE Podcast entitled Self-Control Leads to Contentment. Listen for the short version of this blog or just to add more meat to the blog.