What’s the difference between self-control and control? According to Vocabulary.com, self-control is the quality that allows you to stop yourself from doing things you want to do but that might not be in your best interest. Whereas, control is having the power to run something in an orderly way. The Bible teaches that we should have self-control while submitting our control to God.
We live in a world governed by laws – rules, if you will. Each thing depends on another for balance. As human beings, we try to maintain our balance because we believe if we can control our environment, we can control the outcome. If we know exactly what’s going to happen, we have nothing to fear.
We see evidence of people who don’t like being out of control: managers who micromanage their employees, parents who hover and parent their children to death, people who freak out if a single element is out of place.
We see people who hurt others because they get angry or who abuse substances like drugs or alcohol. In our minds, these people would not have hurt anyone had they been able to control themselves. And that’s true. But there is a difference between control and self-control.
Wanting everything done a certain way is about control. Learning to behave in an acceptable manner is self-control.
Losing control of self can be a very bad thing. But being unwilling to give up our semblance of control is worse.
We were created to give glory to God. Submission and obedience are the two key elements that allow us to do that. Submission requires giving up our own agendas. We have to believe that God is in control even when things feel out of control.
Obedience is choosing to do what God says whether it makes sense or not. We have to trust God who knows best. For a person who fears losing control, this can be a huge challenge.
Overcoming our fear of losing control is a matter of trust. Do we trust in our abilities to control the outcome or do we trust God?
If you ask the smallest child who has spent any time in church what they know about God, they may tell you He sees everything and knows everything. But, so does Santa Claus.
According to popular culture, Santa “sees us when we’re sleeping, knows when we’re awake, knows if we’ve been bad or good". Yet for all this knowledge, Santa manages to keep himself out of human affairs and only shows up once a year with gifts or coals.
Too many of us hold the view that God is a lot like Santa Claus – there to grant our wishes, but too far away to have a relationship with. If we’re going to trust God, we have to know Him.
As Lauren Gaskill writes in Into the Deep:
“We admire people who seem to trust God freely, easily, and fully. We wish we could doubt less and trust more. Yet if we examine our lives , the truth is that we spend more time dwelling on our doubts than we spend surrendering and pressing into God.
I wonder how many of us feel that we can’t trust God, yet we’ve never given Him a chance to prove Himself worthy of our trust. We’ve never let Him show us just how faithful and good He really is because we’re too caught up in trying to do everything ourselves. If we want to trust God, we must let go of control and spend quality time discovering who He really is.”
The secret to overcoming our fear of losing control is recognizing that we are not in control. God is. When we trust God, we know whatever the outcome, all will be well.
Challenge: Make a list of what you know about God. Create a list of His attributes that you have experienced in your walk with Him.