The Christian Virtue of Self-Control Holistically Considered

Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23). This means self-control is a virtue that Christians have because the Spirit is at work in them. Other passages in Scripture talk about self-control as well (Prov. 25:28, 1 Cor. 7:5, 2 Tim. 1:7, etc.). Self-control is a great thing because it helps us say no to sinful desires. It keeps us from doing things that are harmful to ourselves or others. Positively speaking, it is even something that helps us love and serve others instead of ourselves.

One helpful resource on self-control is Your Future Self will Thank You” by Drew Dyck. The title does sound a little odd perhaps. But I’ve found it to be an enjoyable and informative discussion of self-control from a Christian perspective. I also appreciate the “common grace” insights that Dyck uses from scientists, doctors, and counselors. Self-control is a spiritual virtue, to be sure. But since we are humans with bodies, the spiritual overlaps with the biological. Speaking of this overlap, here are two sections I just read that I marked up quite a bit:

How can we strengthen our willpower? Just like we strengthen our muscles – with resistance. In other words, if you want to grow your willpower, start doing hard things. Read a challenging book. Go for a run. Learn a foreign language. Have an awkward conversation with a stranger. It all takes willpower and the more you do it, the easier it will become. Not only will you get better at the specific task; the growth in willpower you gain will enable you to push harder in all activities requiring effort….

….We can grow our willpower, and we need to conserve it. We also need to replenish it. Some of these strategies are common sense. Getting a good night’s sleep goes a long way toward restoring your willpower reserves. Studies show that people who are well rested demonstrate far greater self-control than people who skimp on sleep. Eating well is also key. Tasks that expend willpower (even if they’re not physically demanding) cause your blood glucose levels to drop. Researchers routinely use sugar pills or sweet drinks to combat the effects of ego depletion. But sugar is only a short-term fix and can actually sabotage your willpower long-term. Yes, sugary snacks provide an initial spike of blood sugar but they also cause us to release insulin, which then lowers blood sugar. That’s why Bradley Wright identifies refined sugars and processed grains as the worst foods for willpower. Instead he advises eating ‘low-glycemic foods, those that keep steady blood sugar levels’….

I’ll come back to this book later for sure; stay tuned! For now, if you want a helpful Christian book on self-control get this: Your Future Self Will Thank You by Drew Dyck. (The above quotes were taken from pages 87-89 of the book).

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015

1 thought on “The Christian Virtue of Self-Control Holistically Considered”

  1. Thank you for this post. This is a timely book to review. Self control is especially difficult when lockdown in almost the entire state of California is imminent, and Thanksgiving is just around the corner.

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