Successful Living: Five Keys Areas That Require Self-Control

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace. ~ Heb. 12:11

Almost everything in life provides us with a choice. We can be neat or messy, compassionate or selfish, energetic or lazy. At the time, it doesn’t seem to matter if we choose poorly. After all, it’s just a little decision. Often, we don’t even recognize it as a choice. We just ‘feel like’ doing it … so we do!

Here’s the problem. All those little choices accumulate to produce a lifestyle. They become habits. A bit of mail dropped on the corner of the dining room table soon becomes a table covered with ‘stuff’. Dessert every night turns into extra weight and leads to health problems. Grouching and complaining creates discontent, loneliness and depression. Do you get the idea?

The Bible clearly states that what we sow we will reap, ‘good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over’ (Luke 6:38). Little actions reap multiplied results.

So how do you purposefully create the life you want? The answer is self-control. Wise choices reap a harvest of blessing and abundance, contentment and joy. Here are five areas that need attention and discipline:

Your mouth: Govern not only what goes into your mouth but what comes out. Sure, you need to eat healthy foods and limit the not-so-healthy. You already know that. You also know the consequences of not using restraint (discipline) in your diet. Even more important are the words you speak. The Bible clearly tells us, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue”(Prov. 18:21). The Apostle James (James 3:10) cautioned us about blessing and cursing coming out of the same mouth. He told us not to do that. To stand in faith means controlling your words so they stay consistent with your desire (prayer).

Your surroundings: Our Heavenly Father is a God of order. He established procedures for the Tribe of Israel. As His children, we should follow His example. Clean up the kitchen; clean out the closets. Deal with clutter and chaos. Keep a small garbage bag in your car for trash (the back seat is not a garbage can). Neatness and order promote peace of mind, gratitude for the things you already have, and shows your readiness for more. You want God to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over little things [therefore I can make you] ruler over many.” (Matt. 25:21)

Your finances: God expects us to ‘deal wisely’ with our money, as well as our possessions. In today’s economy, it is important to be pro-active about your finances. Make some tough decisions about your spending habits. Tithe faithfully. Put a portion of everything you receive into a savings account. In case you haven’t noticed, credit card companies, banks and other financial institutions would like to keep you paying interest … forever! Add up how much of your income went to interest payments last month and multiply by 12. That money just disappeared from your financial worth. Do whatever it takes to get out of debt.

Your attitudes: Peace, love, joy, kindness, all the fruit of the Spirit were given to us so that we can control our emotions and reactions. No, you don’t have to say everything you think, and you don’t have to express your displeasure, anger or resentment every time your feelings rise up. Remind yourself that you are ‘rooted and grounded in love’ (Eph.3:16), that you have the fruit of the spirit in abundance. Yes, you can control your attitudes and emotions. You can choose peace over strife, kindness instead of resentment, compassion rather than selfishness.

Your hearing: You already know that “Faith comes by hearing …” (Rom. 10:17). The more you hear a certain thing, the more you believe it. If you feed your mind on the nightly news, you will soon believe the world’s tales of woe more than you believe the Word of God. You may not think about it that way, but it’s true. The more you listen to negativity, defeat, disaster and animosity, the more those same things will flow out of you. “Take heed what you hear.” (Luke 8:18) It will affect your mental, emotional and physical health more than you realize. Instead, discipline yourself to spend time ‘hearing’ His Word, feeding on His promises, and limit your exposure to the world’s way of thinking.

We all want a successful life. We crave peace and joy, loving relationships, financial security and a sense of purpose. They way to have all those things is to sow towards them. Stay peaceful and full of joy. Love others by sharing our blessings and talents. Discipline your thoughts, words and actions.

The power to live successfully lies in consistency and self-control. Start today to align your choices with your desired results. Even small changes, practiced consistently, can multiply into the successful life you want. Just do it!

 

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