1 Peter 1:13-16
Often times, self control is thought of when someone is trying to diet or quit smoking; however, even if you do not struggle with an obvious vice, everyone needs to exercise self control. We each have a struggle that takes self control to overcome. I find it interesting that dictionary.com defines self control as, “control or restraint of oneself or one’s actions, feelings, etc.” It doesn’t just talk of controlling actions; it includes feelings in the definitions and I would even like to include thoughts. Feelings and thoughts are things that we like to think are involuntary actions; however, I believe that our feelings and thoughts are things that can be controlled and need to be controlled if we are to live godly lives. I would like to look at how the mind is actually the first battle field in the war for self control. Please turn to 1 Peter 1:13-16.
“Prepare your minds for action…,” is the first idea that is expressed in these verses. We are then told to be self controlled and to set our hope on the grace that God gave us through Christ. Peter then expresses the importance of not giving to the evil desires that we lived out before we had Christ in our lives, we are called to live lives that are holy just as God is holy. I have been attending churches since my husband and I were dating that stress holiness. There is a danger; however, in living an outward expression of holiness but not having a changed heart. That is called legalism and we are not living obedient lives because we desire to please God, we are living obedient lives so we can follow a set of rules and regulations. Peter is showing us that in order to live a life of holiness our obedience needs to start in the mind. We are to control the thoughts and desires that enter the mind. Paul gave us prescription of what we should do to control the battlefield of the mind in Philippians 4:8; please look it up.
I am definitely convicted as I read this verse! For me, self control includes not thinking with a critical mind of myself or others. I tend to be a perfectionist and hold myself to a standard that is simply not human. While I do not expect perfection from those around me and do not hold them to the high standard that I place on myself, I still have an eye that sees how things were not done well. When I find myself thinking of critical thoughts, I need to focus on what is good. Even if something was not done completely perfect, I need to focus on what was done well and how that can be brought out even more to help correct the weaknesses. And I need to see God’s work in that process. For someone else, it may mean that as an ungodly thought enters the mind they need to focus on something that is worthy of praise to our Father. Whatever the issue is, self control can happen in the mind when we think on things that represent God.
Are you starting the battle with self control in the mind? Are you looking to the good things from God as your first line of defense?