"I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is the victory over self". ---Aristotle (384--322 B.C.)
"They say there's a Heaven for those who will wait Some say it's better but I say it ain't I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints The sinners are much more fun....." "Only The Good Die Young" Billy Joel 1978
So which one of these observations would you agree with? That of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle or the one offered by the 1980's rock star Billy Joel? If you are honest with yourself chances are you would have to agree with both of these men. For as is noted in the Scriptures"the spirit is willing but the flash is weak." The pursuit of self-control is a lifelong battle that each and every one of us must wage with ourselves. Some of us are better at it than others. Each of us has our own personal demons that we must somehow try to overcome. Yet the reality is that there is much temptation in this world for us to cope with. Sometimes I just feel a bit overwhelmed by it all and find myself on the brink of despair. Now I don't know what your experience has been but I find that each and every time I am convinced that I have finally conquered one of my vices it returns with a vengeance. One step forward and two steps back it seems. To further complicate matters in the highly connected world in which we live we are bombarded with messages and images all day long that tempt us to eat too much, drink too much or perhaps spend too much. And then there are the sexual temptations..... All of these destructive behaviors shatter our self-esteem and put us at risk in so very many ways. Furthermore, we have been conditioned to seek the easy way out and are told incessantly that we deserveto have this product or that service. We need to take a deep breath, get a grip and discover some tools to aid us in the battle to improve our self-control.
Lots of folks seek advice from people like the noted self-help advocate, lecturer and author Dr. Wayne Dyer. Walk into any bookstore and you will find Dr. Dyer's books and DVD's prominently displayed. The good doctor is extremely popular and his presentations appear periodically as PBS fundraisers. Still others find that physical and mental disciplines like yoga, exercise and meditation work best for them. And as one might expect religious folks are likely to turn to prayer, fasting, Bible study and prayerful meditation for the support that they seek. The point is that in order to achieve the goal of better self-control a person has to be proactive. You have to identify and admit to your problems and shortcomings and embark on a course of action to correct them. It will never be easy and chances are you will stumble again along the way. But aspiring to self-control is a worthy goal for all of us. I will pray for you if you pray for me.