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But we need to have self-control with what we eat, right?

Self-control is used a lot in Christian circles when it comes to food. I am pretty hypersensitive to spotting legalism having had to unpack a LOT of baggage picked up during my teenage years. I never had a firm argument against this type of conversation.  I mean, it does feel a tad biblical, doesn’t it?  

How do we get more self-control?

 Remember, though- what is self-control?  It is a fruit of the Spirit.  The whole concept of the fruit of the Spirit is that it is something grown in us.  And how? By walking in the Spirit.  Not by leaving one bite of dessert left on our plate, just to prove to ourselves we can.   Not by creating rules around when we allow ourselves to eat. Not by sticking to our workout schedule.  You don’t muscle your way to self-control, you have to rely on the Spirit.  

What is self-control vs overcontrol?

It can be really easy to think we are being self-controlled when, really, we are being overcontrolled.   Overcontrol is something you muscle your way to.  True self-control relies on the Lord for his strength and grace.  A way you can discern if you are exercising overcontrol or self-control is in the fact that self-control comes right along with the other fruit of the Spirit-  “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness”. 

Fruit of the Spirit Check-in

If you begrudge going over to certain people’s houses for dinner because of the cans and packets they use in their cooking- where is the love in that?

If eating stresses you out more than is a positive experience- where is the joy in that?

If you feel your body tensing up a little bit at the thought of the preservatives in the mac & cheese your kids are eating at grandma’s house- where is the peace in that?

If you put down what other people eat- where is the kindness in that?

If you are snapping at the people you love most because you are hangry- where is the goodness in that?

If you are so rigid in your rules with your kids they feel bad about liking candy and nachos- where is the gentleness in that?

And yes- you can have self-control about self-control.  If you cannot eat certain foods without them taking control OR if you eat them, but then are consumed by anxiety afterwards- where is the self-control in that?

Overcontrol results in distraction from God.  Self-control pushes you to God.  If much of your day is spent thinking about what you’ll eat, your health, your shape, your runs- pray about that.  Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. How can you do it to the glory of God if you are doing it on your own?  Bring Him in it.  Ask for a heart that values what He values, for eyes that see what the Lord sees. 

And yes, bringing Him into it might mean loosening your control (perceived control!) over your body.

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