“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” Proverbs 25:28
“You can have one marshmallow now, or you can wait fifteen minutes and have two later,”
My wife told our three sons this when they were seven, six, and four years old. Taylor left his marshmallow on the table and began building Lego. Clark took the marshmallow and hid it in his room — out of sight, out of mind. Eric began to play catch with his. All three held off for fifteen minutes and cashed in on two soft sweets.
Shelaine was re-enacting an experiment she had read in college where kids did similar things —most resisted by distracting themselves through playing, singing, covering their eyes, and the like. But those who ate the marshmallow did so as soon as the experimenter left the room. Two decades later the researchers discovered that the kids who had exercised self-control were now better able to cope with life, felt socially capable, and were dependable. But the people who didn’t resist as children were now indecisive, easily stressed, and prone to jealousy.
We use self-control every day to manage life — not just obvious things like not speeding or over eating, but also watching our tongue, spending money wisely, and making good relationship choices.
Thank God that the fruit of His Spirit shows up as self-control (among other good things), and that by His strength we can knit together positive experiences and avoid hurtful or stupid ones. I’m reminded to rely on His Spirit to discern wise choices that benefit everyone involved.
Thank You God for Your Spirit of self-control, which helps me pause and consider my options before I open my mouth or act. May I lean into Your strength to make redeeming choices today. Amen.
Where does lack of self-control show up in your life? Commit those areas of weakness to God and ask for His strength to make better choices.