The Importance of Self-Control
We are standing, as it were, upon the borders of the eternal world; and if there ever was a time when all should strive most earnestly to live a holy life, it is now. All sensual, carnal pleasures should be abandoned, and Satan find nothing in us to assail. The apostle prayed: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” What a prayer is this! It would not have been inspired of God and written in his holy word if it had been impossible for us to reach these high attainments; and yet how content and at ease we are in retaining very objectionable traits of character!
One class have come up without self-control; they have not bridled the temper or the tongue; and some of these claim to be Christ’s followers, but they are not. Jesus has set them no such example. When they have the meekness and lowliness of the Saviour, they will not act out the promptings of the natural heart, for this is of Satan. Some are nervous, and if they begin to lose self-control in word or spirit under provocation, they are as much intoxicated with wrath as the inebriate is with liquor. They are unreasonable, and not easily persuaded or convinced. They are not sane; Satan for the time has full control. Every one of these exhibitions of wrath weakens the nervous system and the moral powers, and makes it difficult to restrain anger on another provocation. With this class there is only one remedy,—positive self-control under all circumstances. The effort to get into a favorable place, where self will not be annoyed, may succeed for a time; but Satan knows where to find these poor souls, and will assail them in their weak points again and again. They will be continually troubled so long as they think so much of self. They carry the heaviest load a mortal can lift, that is self, unsanctified and unsubdued. But there is hope for them. Let this life, so stormy with conflicts and worries, be brought into connection with Christ, and then self will no longer clamor for the supremacy.
Why life with many is such a hard struggle is because it is apart from Christ; through self-delusion the battle is waged blindly with circumstances. With many youth wrong feelings have been shown, and unchristian words have been spoken. At such times they should humble themselves, saying frankly, “I have done wrong. Will you forgive me? For God has said we must not let the sun go down upon our wrath.” This is the only safe path toward overcoming. Many look at things on their darkest side; they magnify their supposed grievances, nurse their wrath, and are filled with revengeful, hateful feelings, when in truth they had no real cause for these feelings. Shall we cut ourselves loose from the rest of humanity, remaining solitary and alone, because everything in our association with others does not move smoothly? No, indeed; the change must take place in your own soul. Resist these wrong feelings, and you will experience a great change in your association with your fellowmen. Your good will, your unselfish acts, will not be to a favored few, but to all with whom you associate. Thus you will form friends and attachments that are dear and lasting; your own deeds will be reflected back on yourself.
Our relations to God and one another can never be severed. We may ignore them, not answering to the claims of one of them; yet we are really bound by them as long as time shall last. Souls must be saved, and we are to have a part in the great work. Let not the youth falter, but stand in defense of the truth.
If the truth of God be not deep-rooted in the heart, you cannot stand the test of temptation. There is only one power that can keep us steadfast under the most trying circumstances,—the grace of God in truth. The ungodly are lynx-eyed to mark every inconsistency, and prompt to pour contempt on the weak and halting ones. Let the youth make their mark high. Let them seek in humble prayer for that help which Christ has promised, that they may exert an influence upon others that they will not be ashamed to meet in the great day of final settlement and rewards. Those who have exemplified the loftiest Christian principles in every department of business and religious life will have the inexpressible advantage, for they will enter the paradise of God as conquerors. They loved Jesus here in this life, were constrained by his love to make the most of their God-given powers in improving every opportunity to win souls to Jesus Christ. Thus they built up their Redeemer’s kingdom, and advanced his glory, and will receive the commendation, “Well done,” from his divine lips.
— E.G. White, Youth’s Instructor, 11/10/1886