Thursday, April 15, 2010

Indulge Yourself

by Donna L. Watkins

Self-Indulgence ... isn't this what we are told to do by television shows, advertising and even motivational books? Joyce Meyer once mentioned she had a tape series on "Patience" and couldn't sell it. She had another one on "Pride" and nobody wanted to pick up that one, especially the ones who needed it, since they had too much pride to allow somebody see them look at it.

© 2009 Donna L. Watkins - Male English Sparrow
What I really want to encourage you on with this article is self-control. It's about not always pleasing yourself. We get into many emotional battles and relinquish control of many areas of our life and our peace of mind when we don't learn about, and put into practice, self-control. It will actually preserve us and bring much joy into our lives. All of God's character qualities (consider fruits of the spirit) are for our good, to edify us and others as we walk on this Earth.

Self-control will enable you to walk in the rest of the fruits of the spirit a whole lot easier. Charles H. Spurgeon said, "Temperance (an old-fashioned word for self-control) is the best medicine - for it is a preventative and a preservative, as well as a cure."

Medicine is a good choice of words, isn't it? Self-control is a bitter medicine to get into our minds. Self-control is transforming desires to please self into desires to please God. It is responding to sin the same way a dead man does (Romans 6:2, 11).

It's so easy to go overboard in many areas of life. Whether it's shopping, eating, immoral activities or simply a belief system that says life is all about me and my needs. We are called to be living sacrifices (Romans 12:1) but we don't want to ponder that too much. It actually doesn't mean we are to be poor and debased and bedraggled. We are children of the King and we can live in royalty with a Kingdom mindset, but that mindset doesn't include overwhelming debt or poor health due to overeating just because we never learned to "just say NO."

The sin of gluttony refers to the excessive consumption of food, but taking it to a deeper level you could say that it is “seeking to satisfy our souls by indulging the appetites of the flesh.” This is in contrast to self-control, which is the ability to align the actions of our body with the desires of the spirit. When it comes to food it's a tough battle since most of our were raised with food being used as a reward and for comfort or being a good child.

We are the temples of the Holy Spirit, our Comforter and Helper. This is one of the things I sink deep into my heart because I want to provide a clean and healthy temple for God as much as it is in my power to do so. Christian self-control is ultimately about being controlled by God’s Spirit. In fact, God sometimes lets us fall into sins of the flesh to teach us not to trust in our own willpower! This is also why those who undergo persecution are considered 'blessed', or 'lucky', as it is obvious to them that they can’t pursue physical comfort and the Kingdom of Heaven at the same time.

Self-control is more than moderation. 
 It's an absolute resolve to discontinue self-indulgence. 
 It is removing all provisions for indulgence so you will not fulfill them.

When we wanted to get debt-free back in the late 80's, we knew we had to change our lifestyle. We not only had to determine what we could cut out of the budget, we had to be sure we turned away from the lure of advertising and window shopping. We didn't subscribe to magazines and newspapers. We didn't shop as a pastime to drool over things we wanted. We made no provision for the flesh being enticed into something.

In November of 1998, I made the final decision on giving up chocolate. I had tried it many times in the flesh and whenever I allowed myself to have "just one piece" or allow chocolate in our home, I fell into a binge like an alcoholic with liquor. I couldn't have "just one" of anything chocolate, but my flesh would tell me now and then that I could handle it. I would go for 6 months or even a year, but it was always a battle of the will.

Why was it so important for me to give up chocolate? Because my spirit realized how much control it had over my life. Chocolate made me eat more than I wanted to eat, it made me hyper and happy for a short period of time, and then dumped me into a hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) reaction which made me moody and nasty. The only good that came out of chocolate was the taste of the first bite. It was all downhill from there.

On that Fall day in 1998, I admitted I did not have enough strong will, determination or guts to keep chocolate out of my life. I needed God's power and fruit of His spirit to have enough resolve to discontinue this self-indulgence. I made a promise to God that if He would take away the craving and desire for chocolate, I would say "no" forever more to it.

 I knew there was the physical withdrawal so that's where I used my self-control and will power during the first weeks and then it was all up to God. I kept my promise and He has kept His. It's been an amazing thing! I have no desire for chocolate and I can walk into a place with the smell of it and with a bakery case full of it without wanting any.

Related Articles:
Escaping Temptation (chocolate)
Contentment - A Deer Mouse

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