Devotions

Are Good Intentions Enough?

By Mary Loudermilk
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“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Proverbs 25:28, English Standard Version).

Have you ever said to yourself, “Self, I am so proud of you. You are so disciplined and have everything under control!” Me either. Most of us struggle with this self-control (temperance) thing. We have good intentions, but then we fail on the follow-through. Again and again. We need more than good intentions; we need self-control.

How do we develop self-control? Is it even possible to become more disciplined in life? The Bible assures us we can. Galatians 5:22-23 lists temperance, or self-control, as the fruit of the Spirit. We just need to tap into God’s power. When we rely on God’s Spirit rather than trying to do it on our own, we will succeed. Let’s look at some steps we can take.

Identify any problem areas.

Where do you struggle most? Is it managing time? Living a healthy lifestyle? Controlling anger or impatience? Showing integrity? Do temptations defeat you? Recognize your problem areas. You must be honest with yourself before you can succeed. (Read II Corinthians 13:5.)

Be honest with God.

Talk to Him about your areas of struggle. Yes, He already knows your weaknesses, but He desires you to be transparent with Him. If you are making Him your partner, then share your concerns. (Read I Corinthians 10:13; Hebrews 4:15-16.)

Remove any temptation.

If something is right in front of us, it’s easier to give in to the temptation. Remove it — or remove yourself from the situation. (Read Matthew 26:41; II Timothy 2:22.)

Don’t give up.

We usually do not overcome our problems in a single day. Setbacks happen, but we can learn from them. Forgive yourself and keep moving forward.  (Read James 1:12.)

Proverbs 25:28 says a person without self-control has no walls of protection. We leave ourselves exposed and vulnerable. If we do not take control of our weak areas — build up the walls — what once seemed just a small matter can lead to sin. And suddenly, that’s a big thing. What if David had exercised self-control to turn away when he saw Bathsheba from the rooftop (II Samuel 11)? How much trouble would have been avoided?

Second Timothy 1:7 assures us, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” When we look at the Greek root of “sound mind,” it is defined as “an admonishing or calling to soundness of mind, to moderation and self-control.” God’s Spirit living inside gives us the power to develop self-control.

Prayer: Lord, I don’t always have things under control. You know my areas of struggle and the times I’ve failed on my own. Now I want to allow Your Spirit to give me the strength to change. You can help me develop the discipline I need in my life. I want to be transparent with You and I seek Your help to live victoriously every day. Help me to tap into Your power and Your strength.

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Mary enjoys traveling, meeting new people, and spending time with old friends. Although directionally challenged, she would rather take the back roads with their discoveries than the boredom of the interstate.

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