Create the Life You Want: 5 Keys Areas That Require Self-Control

You have power over your mind—not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. ~ Marcus Aurelius

Have you noticed, almost everything in life provides you with a choice. Some of them are easy: coffee or tea, chicken or steak, go or don’t go. Then there are slightly harder choices. You can be neat or messy, compassionate or selfish, energetic or lazy. Every moment of every day your mind—or your spirit—are choosing what you becomes your LIFE.

At the time, it doesn’t seem to matter if you choose poorly. After all, it’s just a little decision. “I guess I’ll play computer games instead of cleaning up the kitchen.” Or here’s a favorite: “I know I shouldn’t, but …” You fill in the blank with something you know you shouldn’t say or do! Often, you don’t even recognize these little incidents as a choice. You just ‘feel’ like it … so you do!

Here’s the problem. All those little choices accumulate to produce your 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. Grumbling and complaining creates discontent, loneliness and depression. “I really want this, so I’ll just charge it” turns into a mountain of debt. Do you get the idea?

The Bible clearly states that what you sow you will reap, ‘good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over’ (Luke 6:38). Wrong choices create a harvest just as effectively s right ones. Even little actions reap multiplied results.

So how do you purposefully create the life you want instead of the life you’ve got? The answer is self-control. God wants  you to receive and live by the fruit of the Spirit [which] is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self control (Gal. 5:22-23). Wise choices, governed by wisdom and self-control, reap a harvest of blessing and abundance, contentment and joy. Here are five areas that need your attention and discipline:

Your mouth: Govern not only what goes into your mouth but what comes out of it as well. 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, however, are the words you speak. The Bible clearly says, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue”(Prov. 18:21). The Apostle James (v.  3:10) cautioned about blessing and cursing coming out of the same mouth. He told you not to do that. To stand in faith means controlling your words so they stay consistent with God’s Word and your desire (prayer).

Your surroundings: Our Heavenly Father is a God of order. He established procedures for the Tribe of Israel. As His child, you 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 demonstrates 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 you to ‘deal wisely’ with your money, as well as your 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 you so that you can control your emotions and reactions. Surprise! 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,” Jesus said (Luke 8:18). He knew negative words 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.

I know you want a successful life. And God has promised to give you the desires of your heart (Ps  37:4). The rest of that passage says, however, to trust in the Lord and do good … delight thyself also in the Lord … Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him.

It takes a lot of discipline and self-control to stay focused on the spiritual instead of the natural. You may crave peace and joy, loving relationships, financial security and a sense of purpose. But the way to have all those things is to sow towards them. Sow your time and attention into the things of God. Stay peaceful and full of joy. Love others by sharing your 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, productive, peaceful and joy-filled life you want.

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