Examples of self control in the bible are certainly useful in teaching the sacred art of self-possession.
They are embodied in stories that allow us to peek into the minds of bible characters who were disciplined and showed self-control.
There are lessons to uncover when we contextually place these stories side by side. One lesson to discover is that the exhibition of indiscipline by one person also necessitates the display of self-control by another.
Keep an eye out for more lessons as we look through several examples of self control in the bible.
Bible characters and their story about self-control
From 2 Timothy 3:16, we understand there is so much wisdom in the bible.
It was given to show us how to live and how to live well.
We don’t always have to learn the hard way (from our mistakes). We get to learn from others who came before us and emulate their successes.
Here are a few bible characters who were disciplined and their stories.
David: A man after God’s heart
Per God’s will, David was anointed as the next King of Israel to succeed His predecessor, Saul, whose leadership over Israel was faulted in the sight of God. Seeing David as a threat to his reign, Saul was determined to have him killed. On several occasions, He tried to pit him against the Philistines and pin him to a wall with a spear. With the help of God, David escaped the mightily extended hand of King Saul that stretched against him.
King Saul, by his actions, swore that he would stop at nothing to have David killed. His self-assumed strife with David you’d think would be his undoing. Twice, he was at the mercy of David and His men. The first time was in the wilderness of Engedi. Outnumbered four hundred to one, David’s men urged him to kill King Saul who was hitting the gents in the same cave they camped. They said to David, “Surely the Lord has placed Saul into your hands today.” However, David had an attitude of reverence and respect for God and His anointed servants that motivated him to refrain from killing Saul.
On a second outing incited by some Ziphites, Saul marches with 3000 choice warriors and camps in the wilderness of Ziph in search of David. David and Abishai, son of Ahitub, snuck into the encampment unnoticed and made their way into the tent where Saul and his confidants were sleeping. Abishai implores David to let him deliver a stealthy death blow to the slumbering King and remove the obstacle to David’s reign. It’s an appetizing plea to grant but David was able to stay committed to the goal of not sinning against God. He shares his belief with Abishai.
No one lays out his hand against God’s anointed one and remains innocent. The Lord can bring about the establishment of His own will for anyone. Tag along and not obstruct.
Jehoshaphat: A King of Israel
Source text: 2 Chronicles 20. Element: fear
Jehoshaphat was the fourth King of the Kingdom of Judah and the sixth King of the House of David succeeding his father, Asa. He walked in the way of the Lord and the Lord cause him to be very successful. Great honor was ascribed to his name because God had set fear upon his enemies in surrounding cities and caused them to refrain from warring with King Jehoshaphat.
After a long period of peace, however, the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites of Mount Sier decided to pick a fight with him. A turf war with historical roots seeing that Israel, during their journey through the wilderness, refrained from capturing their lands as instructed by God. Now, the Moabites attempt to conquer Judah with a multitude of men who have no intention of losing.
When Jehoshaphat was informed of this developing situation he became afraid. Fear, a natural response in such circumstances, would ultimately overrun the great king of Judah before the belligerents if he continued to dwell on the situation. Dismayed paralysis, irrational decision-making, and costly offensive moves would likely occur. What King Jehoshaphat did next constitutes a strategy for emotional regulation.
Then he chose to seek the Lord determinately and called for a city-wide biblical fast. In doing so, he turned his gaze away from the source of fear to the Source of Peace. In the end, the Lord himself fought the battle for him.
Joseph: A Prime Minister in Egypt
Source: Gen 37. Element: Libido and inordinate sexual drives.
Joseph, the most loved son of Jacob, told his father and his brothers about the dreams he had had. These dreams were a symbol of his royalty, distinction, and preeminence over his entire family as purposed by God. His brothers rebuked his dreams, hated him for it, and sold him for 12 shekels of silver to Ishmaelite traders en route to Egypt.
In Egypt, Joseph was taken as a slave into the Home of Potiphar, the captain of the King’s guards. Nevertheless, The Lord was with Joseph and caused all that Joseph handled to prosper. Potiphar saw this and consigned all that he owned into the care of Joesph.
Joseph wasn’t only an upright person, He was also strikingly handsome and attractive. It was only a matter of time before Potiphar’s wife noticed him and began to burn with a desire to have him under the sheets.
Impelled by her infatuations, she continued to make several advances toward Joseph.
The sways of her manipulative tricks sought to lure him by his sinful nature, but he chose to hold on to the law of God. He understood that such an action would be a defiance of God’s law and a sin to his master.
His love for God, his god-given dreams, and respect for Potiphar were the things he chose to set his mind upon. Even when the seemingly perfect opportunity to sin had presented itself, he remained set on these things and did not give way to sinful thoughts.
Moses: A caretaker of God’s household
Source text: Numbers 11 and 12 Element: self-righteous apathy
Humor me this.
As a departmental leader within an organization, you just experienced a situation where the CEO of the company reprimanded one of your executive officers who was caught questioning your leadership abilities and spreading dissension across the ranks. What will be your attitude towards that person?
Hold that thought and let us see Moses’ reaction.
The people of Israel arrived at Camp Hazeroth in the wilderness of Paran led by Moses, God’s chosen one to lead Israel out of captivity and toward Canaan. At Hazeroth, Miriam, a prophetess spoke to her brother, Aaron, against Moses. Now Moses had married a woman from Cush(modern-day Ethiopia) and Miriam, for some reason, considered it wrong for Him to do so. However, she expressed great dissension and questioned the authority of Moses by murmuring;
Has the Lord only spoken through Moses? Hasn’t he also spoken through us?
It was heard on high and then the Lord God called Miriam, Aaron, and Moses to a meeting in the Tabernacle. During the meeting, God vouches for Moses and punishes Miriam by afflicting her with Leprosy.
“Justice served”. “I mean she had it coming”. “She got what she deserved” and a sense of self-righteousness are natural responses to such a situation. But from the Scriptures, we see a different reaction from Moses.
Despite being opposed and disregarded by his inner coterie, Moses felt compassionate as he watched Miriam suffer and Aaron plead. However, Moses knew the Lord is just and he is also merciful so he interceded on behalf of Miriam which resulted in a lighter punishment.
Lessons learned from the stories of self-discipline in the bible.
1. Your contradictory acts and mistakes do not disprove your quality of discipline.
Moses is sometimes perceived to have anger issues but I love the message His story tells. We don’t have to be perfect to exhibit self-control. We just need to tackle each impulse, thought, or desire one at a time. Where we fall short, we invite God’s grace to perfect our weaknesses.
2. There’s always a need for self-control
Whenever there was a display of self-control, it is often necessitated by another display of indiscipline. As we experience the world, there is every likelihood of provocation but we must choose right if we want to grow in the ability of self-control.
3. Conflict of wills and interests.
For both the element and the regulator, there is an attitude of determination. One is set on tending towards intemperance, the other is set on moderation. This behavior can be used to identify situations that call for self restrain and device instruments that aid our course.
4. A secret agent.
These characters had one thing in common. The spirit of the Lord was with them. Self-control can therefore be seen as a fruit of the spirit that is expressed when you continue to walk with God.
5. A strategy to employ.
Experiencing an unbridled full-body response?
Check to see what is engaging your attention.
Employ attention deployment by disengaging from ill sources and engaging with godly, honorable ones.
Related: A mind reframing tactic
Stories of self discipline in the bible train us on how to discover several situations that necessitate self-control and how to handle them.
Having these stories placed side by side also allows us to detect subtle patterns and uncover hidden truths about the sacred art of self-possession.
What lessons did you learn? Kindly spare a moment to share them in the comment section. See you there.