September 21, 2017


By J. Wiley Adams

Spiritual maturity includes the important virtue of self-control. The King James Version uses the term "temperance" whereas the American Standard Version renders it "self-control" (2 Peter 1:6).

Self-control includes a good many things, such as the proper use of the tongue, keeping t h e lusts of the body under subjection, purifying one's thoughts, controlling the temper, etc.

The illustration is used in 1 Cor. 13:11 as follows: "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child' but when I became a man, I put away childish things." Here a different thing is under discussion than self-control, but the illustration may well be used in discussing self-control. Certain, things belong to childhood, Paul is saying, and certain things belong to adulthood. Many grow physically and mentally (become adults) but remain infants or babes spiritually. Many times this immaturity is reflected in a lack of self-control.

Eph. 4:15 says, "But speaking truth in love, may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ" (American Standard Version). Notice that by means of the truth we are to "grow up in all things." This certainly involves "self-control."

One great area requiring self-control is that of the tongue and temper. The tongue (and pen) sometimes becomes the scourge by which the temper unleashes itself. James said, "Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth" (James 3:5). How true that is! Often brethren are given to "spouting off" or "grinding an axe" without any rhyme or reason about them. If you will pardon a modern vulgarism, they "blow their stacks." Seemingly little control is ever used about what is said or when it is said or who it might effect and how. Sometimes we hear it during a Bible class, sometimes from the pulpit, sometimes in some religious paper, sometimes to anyone who will stop long enough to listen privately. I have heard sermons that left with me the impression that very little thought had been given to the things said or the manner in which they were presented.

Sometimes brethren will write articles in the various religious journals (liberal and conservative, which reflect a gross lack of self-control in the use of the pen. A writer (?) should not sit down in a fit of temper or in a rash moment and grind out two or three pages of material in such a tone that the term "Christ-like" would in no wise fit it. It would be a good idea if a person would stop long enough to think or cool off before speaking or writing. A good question to ask oneself would be, "Do I really have some thing to say?" or "Do I just have to say something?" There is a great difference between the two. Of course, if a person does have something that is worthwhile, then he should say it, all circumstances duly considered.

There are many things that could be said on the topic of "self-control." In this article we have sought briefly to emphasize the control of our words by mouth or by pen. May we all give this due consideration.

Truth Magazine VII: 8, pp. 23
May 1963