By: Heidi Jo Fulk
It’s time to get to the specifics. In the first few T2 posts, we looked at the big picture and laid the groundwork for the Titus 2 command. So now we come to the list.
Titus 2:4-5—so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
Now typically, I love a good list. Starting at the top and moving through checking things off delights my organizing heart. But in a radical (for me anyway) departure from order, I think we should jump down a couple and start with self-control. Maybe because we’ve just completed our Holy30 challenge and it seems to fit. Maybe because I need this one so much. Maybe because it’s going to effect the rest of the list.
Self-control is one of the only times “self” is used in a positive or desirable context throughout Scripture. And self-control is ALL throughout Scripture. As a specifically stated trait or something demonstrated or needed in some biblical person’s life, it’s obvious God desires and requires His people to have self-control.
Proverbs 25:28—A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.
2 Peter 1:5-7—Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
It seems there are two ways to define self-control. First, it means to control your emotions, desires, and actions. One definition I saw added the words “by one’s own will”. But quite frankly, if I rely solely on my own will, I can tell you right now, nothing’s getting controlled. So as a Believer, self-control is going to be me choosing to allow the Holy Spirit to control my emotions, desires, and actions. The second way to define self-control is controlling the “self” in me. By that I mean quenching the selfish thoughts, wants, and me-first reactions and seeking instead to think of others. Thinking primarily of what God wills and wants, certainly, but also as a wife and mom, the needs and desires of my husband and children too.
So it should be clear why starting with self-control is a pretty good way to tackle this list. Loving our husbands and children and being kind is virtually impossible without it. A life lived out of control or controlled by self is not a life that will display the glory of God. And those are our aims.
Flat out, self-control is hard for me. Sometimes it’s because my emotions or circumstances seem uncontrollable and I “have” to react. Or it’s because I just trust too often and too quickly in my own wisdom and experience. But in the moments when I control those impulses and seek the Spirit’s control instead, I see why God put it on so many lists in His Word. The results always show Him more.
I want self-control to be something that marks me. I want it to set me apart to show the work God can do through me when I get myself out of the way and under control. It’s not a once and done kind of thing. Not much is on this journey of faith and motherhood is. But “in your self-control, perseverance”.
In what areas do you lack self-control? What benefits of self-control do you see in your life?
HEIDI JO FULK is passionate about encouraging woman and girls to love and live God’s word. She is wife to her high school sweetheart, Dan, and mom to their four young children — Emma Jo, Gretchen, Tucker and Brock. Heidi leads a women’s Bible study and an elementary girls’ ministry at her church.