Entropy (noun) – A gradual decline into disorder
Do you ever feel like the word entropy defines your very life? I’m feeling that way today!
Sometimes it seems like all the gears of my life are running smoothly, and I’ve got all kinds of things under control – I’m eating well, exercising regularly, studying God’s word, and getting enough sleep. This is not one of those times! I realized the other day that my self-control in lots of areas is slowly spiraling out of control.
Without really noticing it, I’ve begun eating a lot more sugar, pushing snooze a couple of times in the morning, scrolling through Facebook a little more often, and procrastinating with important projects.
It’s no secret that we feel better, think more clearly, and are generally more productive when we exhibit self-control in all of the various areas of our lives. God knew that self-control would be an important and difficult battle for us, and He addresses it many times in his Word:
A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls. Proverbs 25:28
Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Titus 2:4-5
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23
At times like these when I realize that my self-control is slipping, it’s time to push the reset button and get myself back on track! Here are some practical, tangible steps to take if you feel like me and need to push reset on your habits and attitudes.
- Enlist the help of the Holy Spirit – If I try to develop good habits and self-control on my own, I will surely fail. I don’t have enough willpower, strength, or wisdom to improve myself from the inside out. Only God, who created me and knows all about me, can transform me and help me cultivate the fruits of the Spirit in my life. To try to reset our lives without divine help is folly.
- Have a plan – I’m really good at making vague resolutions and promises. I tell myself all the time that I’ll eat better, get more sleep, and stay off my phone. These statements, although well-intentioned, usually get me nowhere. I don’t really have a plan to eat better, I just know I need to. Without a plan, my good intentions last about 3 hours. Instead, I need to set specific goals and follow some guidelines.
- Track your progress – When I use a habit tracker (a simple chart in my journal), it helps me stay motivated longer. I can see at a glance how many days in a row I’ve gotten out of bed on time, or which days are hard for me to resist sugar. There are apps to track almost every kind of habit, but I’ve found that simply writing it down works too.
In the end, living a self-controlled life is what God wants for us. He knows that a life characterized by self-control is a life controlled by what Christ desires, not what we desire. Self-control makes us feel better and behave better, but more importantly, it sets us up to actually accomplish the good works that God has prepared for us.