Self-control opens up the possibility of greatness.
The absence of self-control has the power to ruin your life.
Solomon wrote in Proverbs 25:28, "A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls."
In the ancient world a city without walls was completely unprotected and susceptible to enemies. People would be living in distress waiting for disaster to come upon them. It wasn't really a question of if the enemy would come it was more a question of when. One of the greatest leaders in the Bible is Nehemiah. He is deeply concerned when he hears that Jerusalem's walls were destroyed and the Jews were unprotected. Nehemiah is so concerned he "sat down and wept and mourned for days, and continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven." He is known forever for rebuilding Jerusalem's walls.
To live without walls is dangerous and should be taken extremely serious. If your walls have broken down and you find yourself lacking self-control - it is time to rebuild.
Say no to yourself at least once a day.
This will begin to develop the discipline necessary to choose correctly in the midst of temptation. You may be saying no to french fries, alcohol, fast driving, checking twitter every minute, your 4th Starbucks of the day - say no to something it is good for you.
Commit to 1 new self-discipline
Join your local CrossFit gym, walk for 30 minutes every evening, read 1 proverb daily, read for 15 minutes, read to your children every night, or be home for dinner. Put something new into practice and stick with it.
Are you the kind of person that just seems bent on learning everything the hard way? You probably have this independence about you that demands testing the waters and discovering the answers on your own.
My son plays competitive soccer and so most weekends we are playing multiple games with short breaks between. We finished our first game on Saturday and had just enough time to get a little something to eat before the next game. I told him he should eat something light so his stomach wasn't upset during the next game. I didn't think this was an outrageous suggestion! However, all he could think about was that he wanted a burrito. We argued back and forth for about 5 minutes and then finally I just gave in. He would have to learn the hard way.
Our lives are full of moments where we refuse to hear the validity in others. This independence is both a strength and a weakness. Does your inability to listen to others usually lead to difficult life lessons? If so, maybe you are beginning to get weary of learning the hard way.
In the scriptures we watch God's chosen people, the Israelites, learn one hard lesson after another. They made a habit of learning the hard way. In Psalm 83 we read a behind the scenes account of Israel asking God to teach a hard lesson to their enemies. The Psalm calls on God to destroy those who come against Israel. The Psalmist says, "...utterly disgrace them until they submit to your name...let them be disgraced and terrified forever." And then verse 18,
"Then they will learn that you alone are called the Lord , that you alone are the Most High, supreme over all the earth."
Sometimes the pain that comes with bad decisions is the only way we learn. It is through the consequences of our bad decisions that we learn that God's ways are actually the best ways. We learn that God is truly right and his ways are righteous. When we suffer the impact of bad decisions we recognize our need for support, encouragement, and insight from others.
If you are tired of learning the hard way - start listening to the Godly counsel of those around you. Take God's word seriously and choose to live according to the scriptures. In this decision you will avoid unnecessary hardship and learn that God alone is "the most high, supreme over all the earth."