Overeating. I know the "I wish I hadn't done that" feeling that accompanies the too-full sensation after a buffet dinner. Where did my resolve go?
Restraint and self-control: we rarely hear these words today. Could it be because living out these words requires an element of pain? To deny ourselves usually hurts. However as a society, avoiding the pain of restraint produces negative consequences on all levels - socially, economically, politically, and personally.
Restraint only occurs when another force works against the "force of desire". In medical school, I remember my amazement at the human body's beautifully designed system for self-control. For instance, the muscles of the body would flail aimlessly if each muscle did not have a counter-restraining muscle. As you move your arm by contracting your biceps muscle, the triceps muscle is restraining it (providing a counter-force) so that the biceps can contract smoothly. The gentle and often unnoticed restraining tug of the triceps muscle allows for the purposeful and controlled movement of the arm. The body has many built-in physiological systems of self-control.
Peter and Paul wrote of self-control.
- "...Therefore be clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray." (I Peter 4:7 NIV)
- "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (I Peter 5:8 NIV)
- "But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet." (I Thessalonians 5:8 NIV)
Are we willing to experience any pain to know the joy of restraint and self-control?
Are we willing to call upon the power of God who enables us to counter-balance our desires?