Whakatupu - Cultivate - Self Control
Self Control and Delayed Gratification are perfect bed-fellows, and when joined in unison can image beautifully the preceding virtues or fruit described in Galatians 5 v 22,23.
To have self control means to ‘manage your own actions feelings and emotions’
The anti-thesis of this leads to potentially controlling of others, which can be seen clearly in the story of David in the book of Samuel. David liked who he saw, and even though he had no right to take her - he did, to gratify his instant desires. There were consequences; the death of a man and a child and the lasting grief imposed on the woman who experienced the loss of both.
David, the entitled and domineering King and Bathsheba, the controlled partner still exist in our world today. The current ‘news’ item that has seen a world wide outcry under the banner of #metoo highlights this. Humans still insist on exerting power over each other, just to satisfy whatever the felt need might be.
How do I cultivate self-control in an age of instant gratification where I can have whatever I want whenever I want it? Why is delayed gratification so important as an antidote to this acceptable yet destructive way of life?
Some research was undertaken based on the “Marshmallow Test”, where young children were given a marshmallow with the instructions that if they didn’t eat it - they would be given another. Years later the study revealed that children who were able to leave the marshmallow on the plate and delaying gratification, achieved higher school grades, had greater employment and career opportunities, as opposed to those who couldn’t resist. The ability to delay gratification, or practice self control it seemed was the most important thing to achieve success in life.
So it seems that self control is best practiced as a discipline when one is young, but as the Chinese Proverb says,
‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.’
It’s never too late to start!!!
Self Control does not stand alone as a virtue to be cultivated in our lives, rather it belongs to all of the others. I wonder though, if it were to intentionally choose to delay gratification that the result and our offering of Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Faithfulness and Goodness to others would be the natural response.
So I say, live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.’ (Gal 5v16)