The grace of God . . . teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives.
— Titus 2:11-12
In this passage self-control literally means “having a sound mind, or being reasonable.” It is basically the opposite of living in confusion, ignorance, or indifference about making choices that support healthy living.
God’s grace saves us from ungodliness (literally, “an unworshipful life”) and from being a slave to the world’s ideas of what we need or want. We are not born with the ability to just say “no”—at least not on a regular basis and not without something else to say “yes” to. If we are without God in our life, all of our “yes’s” are basically guesswork. Our guesses sometimes make things worse, and sometimes a little better—but without God we cannot find the path to full life.
In his grace, however, God has already said “yes” to something else for us. Through the work of the Savior, Jesus, God has said “yes” to our redemption, giving us a whole new way of life. And because of this, God can now train us to say “yes” to better and better choices in our everyday living. That’s self-control.
Self-control is the God-trained ability to understand and choose which options bring us closer to being our best selves.
Jesus, make our path clear today, and give us the self-control we need to choose that path. When we choose wrongly, correct us gently. And when we choose correctly, encourage us, we pray. Amen.