I love to watch the Olympics! Have you ever watched in utter disbelief thinking, How on earth did they do that? Obviously, the accurate answer has to be … practice, practice, practice … again, again, and again!
Yet the dream of all athletes can become a nightmare when harmful habits disrupt their discipline and sabotage their self-control … ultimately vaporizing any chance of victory. It’s all so avoidable! If not kept in check, a destructive habit can quickly turn into an enslaving addiction.
So … what exactly are habits? They are learned patterns of behavior or attitudes repeated so often they become typical of a person. Interestingly, habits can be good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, positive or negative. However, an addiction is always negative because it’s a compulsive, enslaving dependence on something, resulting in detrimental patterns of thinking and behaving.
Is there a difference between a harmful habit and a destructive addiction? Yes, it depends on the power and negative impact it has on your life and the lives of others caught in the crosshairs. If the negative behavior has mastery over your life rather than you having mastery over it, then you are dealing with an addiction.
Realize, when you allow the Lord to have mastery over you, He will give you the self-control you need to be an overcomer. You can overcome harmful habits and addictions. The Bible says … “Sin shall no longer be your master” (Romans 6:14).
As it is with athletes, so it is with you and me. We must exercise discipline in all areas of our life. With God’s help, self-control must not only be regained, but also sustained. Right now, ask yourself, “What wrong habit is discouraging me … defeating me? What really needs to change?” Once you determine the specific changes, use these steps to gain self-control.
How to Gain Self-Control
- Start with a commitment to truth, believing that God has the desire and power to help you change. The Lord says …
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
- Separate yourself from your wrong habit, specifically writing out what it’s costing you.
“When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long” (Psalm 32:3 NLT).
- Set a new goal, write it down, picturing yourself establishing the new habit with God’s help.
“I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8 ESV).
- Stand on the truth, setting a realistic time to begin.
“Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. … Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness” (Ephesians 6:10, 14 NLT).
- Substitute your defeating thoughts for God’s thoughts, identifying your weak points and replacing them with His Word.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2).
- Surrender your will to God and seek out an accountability partner.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).
Yes, gaining self-control is the key to overcoming harmful habits. You are literally replacing a negative habit with a positive habit. At times, it’s saying no to a negative person so you can say yes to God.
In Galatians 5:22–23 (ESV), we find that self-control is a gift from God—it’s what the Holy Spirit produces in you when you yield your will to God’s will. …“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
Imagine that! We can open that gift from the Spirit of God and successfully “practice” self-control … in every area of our lives.
If you’re on Facebook, I invite you to connect with me at Facebook.com/June.Hunt.Hope. And if you’re not, take it from me: You’re never too old to start! See you there!