Sentence Sermons (Christian Inspiration) #37 --- Self-Control

Quotations on Self-Control

To be honest in the motives that prompt to conduct, never to be swayed by improperly selfish considerations, to have no ulterior purpose cover the immediate cause for any deed, to deal fairly with every situation, to follow duty with unwavering loyalty, to maintain an unruffled conviction of pure intentions though carping critics impugn the motives, "to follow light, and do the right"--this is to be master of self, this is to match creed with conduct.

—Albert R. Bond, Baptist Education Bulletin, Birmingham, Ala., March 1922.

In the creation of man the great object was the development of the divine perfections and the happiness of intelligent creatures. This can only be reached in doing God's will. Hence ours should be a life of self-surrender, as I look up and realize there is a stronger hand than my own, and have a constant trust in my Father's love. Should be a life of self-mastery, looking in with a determination to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Jesus Christ. Should be a life of self-devotion, striving to bless the world and fill up that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ.

—W.F. Bryan, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Sept. 7, 1903.

Self-control is always the mark of an efficient man. It is the essential characteristic in the ideal, well-balanced, Christian gentleman. ... How shall I exercise self-control? That is the province of the will. The will is the only initial force known in the universe. The will gives us the direct point of contact with God. God has the utmost reverence for the human will and consistently refuses to coerce it. By exercising the will in the right way may get back to God. By the contrary process man fell away from God. By indulgence in an evil habit the conscience is numbed and the will atrophied. But a will which chooses intelligently as guided by an enlightened conscience will finally produce the beautiful equilibrium of a well-controlled symmetrical character. Be your own master.

—James N. Campbell, The Baptist Chronicle, Alexandria, La., June 19, 1913.

That man who is not master of himself cannot be a leader of men, and that man who is not mastered by the Lord cannot be a true follower of Him.

—B.J.W. Graham, Christian Index, Atlanta, Ga., Aug. 23, 1917.

Moral life is self-government; anarchy is government of ourselves by our needs and passions.

—J.J. Wicker, Religious Herald, Richmond, Va., Feb. 3, 1938.

It is a bright deed when a man lives in such a way as to protect himself from his own weakness and to give his fellowman the benefit of his strongest points. Such men are the real masters of the world.

—A.J. Gearheard, The Shreveport Times, Shreveport, La., Aug. 31, 1919.

The successful life is the controlled life. The mere possession of power is not enough; the question of its proper use must also be considered. ... The only useful life is controlled life. Self-control is essential to our highest development. Lack of self-control marks the incomplete man. He cannot be mature when he has faculties that are unknown to him, or powers that are beyond his direction. Yet many of us are content to know as little of ourselves as possible, and hide beyond our frailties as a legitimate excuse for our failure to be the best that we are possible of being. Man is not meant to be the slave of things. Neither is he meant to be the slave of circumstances. He who is unduly influenced by environments, or whose actions are determined by circumstances, irrespective of what God would have him do, lacks the qualities which go to mark the true man.

—G.B.F. Hallock, Christian Observer, Louisville, Ky., May 18, 1903.

The will is the engine of the soul. Under the Lord it is supreme. ... Spiritual mastery is revealed in terms of prayer. "If ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you." ... Spiritual mastery through prayer is stated in terms of fellowship. "If ye abide in me and my word in you." (John 15:7.) This is real fellowship. In fellowship we find understanding, sympathy, love. Christ hath glorifieth all the ties that bind. It is the nature of the Lord to want to help all in the Master. God is unchangeable--He is not immobile. Mastery in spiritual matters is ours provided we adhere to the truth. Arise and go forward that His name may be glorified, our heart purified, our souls sanctified.

—Ernest Duncan Holloway, Monroe Morning World, Monroe, La., Oct. 28, 1929.

"Greater is he that ruleth his own spirit than he who taketh a city,'"said Solomon. (Proverbs 16:32.) Life is not a matter of quantity, but of quality. To be, is worth more than to have. To rule others one must first know how to rule self, and that is keeping passion in a firm grip, controlling emotion with a high purpose, seeing into the heart of every endeavor is making the most of self.

—Frederick A. Hatch, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Feb. 14, 1898.

Self-control in its highest form is not self-control at all, but God control. Self-control is self-surrender, and he alone is truly master of himself who is the surrendered servant of his Lord. Human nature looks upon it as a necessary qualification of manhood to assert boldly and contend constantly for one's legitimate rights. But the better nature places the laurel crown on the head of him who is equal to the greatest self-denial. Denial of self is supreme victory.

—Robert Hill, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Aug. 28, 1916.

Self-control is important to every man and woman, boy and girl. It is something parents and children, teachers and pupils, employers and employees--in fact, all of us--need and should have it. It is time to study what the Lords says to us about it.

He speaks to us about the important matter of controlling our tempers. "He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding; but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly." (Proverbs 14:29.) "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city." (Proverbs 16:32.)

Then He speaks of the equally important matter of controlling our tongues. "A soft answer turneth away wrath; but grievous words stir up anger. The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright; but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness." (Proverbs 15:1-2.)

Speaking both from experience and observation, I suggest that all of us need the Lord's help in controlling our tempers and our tongues. We need to ask Him for help.

Then the Lord speaks to us about controlling our appetites, and particularly with respect to the drinking and use of intoxicating liquor. He speaks first to those who do not drink but may be influenced, pressed, or tempted to do so.

"Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging; and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise." (Proverbs 20:1).

This day and time "strong drink is raging." Words suggesting or urging its use are before our eyes, day after day. To all the Lord urges us to say "No"--not to do it. He says doing so is unwise. The Lord knows too.

"The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." (Proverbs 15:3.)

Then the Lord speaks to those who have begun to drink. He tells them what they will have or perhaps already have.

"Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine." (Proverbs 23:29-30.)

If there are those who because of drinking have begun to feel the pinch or sorrow, of contentions, of wounds without cause, etc., the Lord says: "Look not thou upon the wine when it is red," etc. (Proverbs 23:31.)

In other words, "Stop." And I think the Lord says to those who want to stop and need help, as He on one occasion said to the Apostle Paul, "My grace is sufficient for thee." (2 Corinthians 12:9.) There is another group, who have begun to drink but who have no so far experienced the woes, sorrows, and contentions. The Lord speaks to them. He points down the road one, two, or maybe 10 years or more and says: "At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder." (Proverbs 23:32.)

Whatever a man's status may be, whether he has not begun to drink, or is drinking and is somewhere in between the beginning and "at the last," the Lord will help him if he will ask him.

—Thomas Martin Kennerly, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, Nov. 5, 1954.

Self-government reduced to perfect self-control is the secret of complete success in this life, and perfect self-control, coupled with honor, sympathy and intelligence can dispel work and anxiety and bring about a most happy state of mind. In intense anger, reason is dethroned, and man is left unprotected from the instincts of the animal within him. If our higher education does not tend to develop self-control and a just consideration of differences, it fails to accomplish the things most essential in uplifting mankind.

—Joseph T. Kingsbury, Millennial Star, Liverpool, England, June 27, 1912.

"To will and to do." (Philippians 2:14.) Mastery is attained by the exercise of a strengthening will; not the mere natural will; not wilfulness, which is obstinacy on the one hand, or rashness on the other; ... but the higher will, which by exercise and nourishment of reason and of conscience has become strong to control our thoughts, our feelings and our conduct. Not that you are alone in this use of the will. The statement of the text means your life rightly related to God's life, so that you see as face to face your own ability and responsibility related to the sources and resources of the soul's divine inheritance in the world eternal. With this consciousness and attitude and assertion first, other things needful will follow. More and more of the Christ spirit and the fruits thereof. And this which leads to the master of self, leads also to the mastery of the not-self in furthering any great work. We are to work out in career as in character what God worketh in us as an endowment and a persistent force. Then shall the strength of one be as that of a thousand, because his life is charged as from a battery with power divine.

—William H. McGlauflin, The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., July 25, 1904.

Self-control means the government and regulation of all our national appetites, desires, passions and affections; and there is nothing which gives a man such strength of character as the sense of self-conquest–the realization that he can make his appetites and passions serve him, and that he is not a servant to them. The comprehensiveness of this virtue may be best understood by naming others included by it. Some of these are: Temperance abstemiousness, bravery, fortitude, cheerfulness, hopefulness, sobriety, chastity, independence, tolerance, patience, submission, continence and purity.

—David. O. McKay, Liahona The Elders Journal, Independence, Mo., Oct. 3, 1911.

Self-control is marked by three elements. First is that of discernment, the recognition of good from bad, the wholesome from the unwholesome. Where there is lack of moral sense, failure to draw a sharp line between those things that lift up and those which lower and degrade, there can be little of self-control, for the life exists only for the whims and desires of the moment, much as with a child, that knows no higher law than those of the physical senses. The first step of self-control, then, is discernment of the right. The next element of self-control is that of decision, determination to follow the right course. Multitudes of people know right from wrong who never reach the second stage of self-control, who never decide for the right. They know that they ought to, and they are always going to, but they lack the positiveness of character which brings them to the place of willingness to do right. ... The second step to self-control, then, is decision to do the right. The third element of self-control is consummation. The life is transformed by the will within. Decision becomes crystallized into deeds, and the high ideal becomes the reality. To will and to do become one. Many a good-intentioned life, many an inward purpose to do right, never attains because the outward conduct has not been conformed thereto. The third step, then, is consummation.

—T.O. Perrin, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Nov. 28, 1921.

True self-government does not stop with self-restraint. It summons its subject to high activities, and demands the right exercise of every power to the fullest measure of its ability. It involves the highest self-development, putting all their faculties to their utmost tension to make the most and best possible out of one's self. It implies, also, the largest helpfulness to others, and makes a man a benefactor as well as a conqueror. No moment wasted, no power perverted, no opportunity omitted, this is in its great and ever-active law, filling one's being with all labor, and crowning it with all rewards. It is this quality of self-control which preeminently prepares one for great emergencies which may come to everyone in life. ... Supreme ability to stand firm in such a crisis hour is but the gathering up and bringing into use the accumulated power which years of self-control have garnered up in store for an emergency. He who has it not surrenders. He who has it seizes the sceptre and wins the crown of victory.

—C.H. Payne, Christian Advocate, New York, N.Y., Aug. 3, 1882.

Self-control implies government of temper, command of feeling, coolness of judgment, power to restrain the imagination, and determination to curb the will. ...

The best government is that which teaches us to govern ourselves. ...

Self-control is always in time, but never before its time.

Self-control is allied to patience, which while it toils on unremittingly, bides its opportunity. Self-control is the art of locking your agitation in your heart. Self-control moves with deliberation, though with promptitude.

Genius is the capacity for surviving failure, and in self-control it finds its powerful agent.

Self-control, like the armor, helps us most where the struggle is sharpest.

Life cannot fail to bring with its contrary winds, storms of thunder and crash of lightning, but they will never hurt us if we meet them bravely, calmly and hopefully.

If there were no trial there would be no honor.

Life brings no benediction for those who take it easily.

Without suffering there can be no strength.

Suffering well borne is better than suffering removed.

Suffering evokes that latent power and rouses into action the energies that otherwise would have lain ingloriously supine, and thus suffering makes strength.

This discipline is the necessary prelude to life's victory.

Difficulties can be conquered only by decision.

Obstacles test our manhood and confirm our self-control.

—Madison C. Peters, quoted in The Baptist Chronicle, Alexandria, La., Nov. 15, 1917.

Self-control is the only sure evidence of personal courage. It is the only means through which the personal powers of endurance and thought can be centered upon any object; it is the only possible way to maintain confidence and secure the confidence of one's group. We readily react to the influence and behavior of those around us, and those with whom we associate. The only conclusive evidence of a man's sincerity is that he gives his all for a principle. Words, money and most other things temporal are somewhat easy to give away, but when a man gives fully of his daily life and practice, it is quite apparent that the truth, whatever it may be, has taken possession of him. Self-denial does not belong to religion as a characteristic of it, it belongs to our own lives. As we set about to attain the higher sphere of life, those temptings of a lower nature must always be denied. ... One must have the will power to courageously, faithfully and loyally do that which he knows is good to do. There is nothing in the world worth having that you can get without working for it, without putting out your best.

—Wayne C. Player, Zion's Builder, Independence, Mo., May 1964.

Self-control will make your home happy. Control your nerves. I wonder how much of our nervousness comes from a lack of real goodness and religion. We claim we are nervous when it would be better sometimes to admit we are just mean. Keep your temper to yourself. No one wants it. Self-control keeps us from the cowardly act of taking out on those made defenseless by their love for us, our ill temper.

—C.E. Wyatt, The Pensacola Journal, Pensacola, Fla., Oct. 12, 1930.

Morality and right living depend upon intelligence and self-control. One must possess the ability to foresee and weigh the possible consequences to himself and others of different kinds of behavior, if one is to know what to do and what not to do. After the proper conduct is pointed out to one by his intelligence, his final action is determined by his willingness and capacity to exercise self-restraint. In order to do right one must first know what is right. Then he must have the will power to do what is right. One may be intelligent to a high degree, and be almost entirely lacking in the exercise of self-restraint, as is evidenced by many intelligent criminals, but proper will power presupposes intelligence. ... Moral judgment or any other kind of higher thought process comes from intelligence, morality and character. The will cannot develop if intelligence remains undeveloped.

—Thomas F. Porter, Lake Charles American-Press, Lake Charles, La., March 15, 1921.

Strength is self-control. No man is morally true who fails to master his desires. The moment a man throws his reins to his impulses and passions, that moment he yields up his moral freedom. In the book of Proverbs praise is accorded not to the strong man who "taketh a city," but to the stronger man who "ruleth his own spirit." Alexander subdued the world around him and wept because there were no more worlds to conquer; yet he fell victim of his passions, and came to a premature death. Self-control is one of the outstanding characteristics of a really strong man. The ability to say no at the right time and to say it in the right tone is a rare Christian grace. The strong man is the one who before all else has mastery of himself, and can, in defiance of pain, hold himself in the way of duty.

—W.C. Scott, Monroe Morning World, Monroe, La., May 30, 1932.

We should overcome with love and affection, guide with kindness and teach and instruct by good example and self-government; for the man who can govern his own temper, rule his own passions, and regulate his own conduct, will have more influence over others ten thousand times than he who is feared and dreaded, and consequently hated.

—George A. Smith, Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 19, 1867.

Control thyself. This is knowledge in action and that is a great deal better than knowledge in possession. ... Of course you have no knowledge in action until you have it in possession. For me to know myself and not control myself is to destroy myself.

—J. Gilmore Smith, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, May 22, 1899.

Sooner or later there come back upon men the inevitable consequences of their own doings. Life is a dramatic contest between the bad and the good. I do not subscribe to that teaching which has been rather common, that it is mind which has full control of the affairs of men. Often have I seen the mind reign, but never have I seen it govern. What man really follows is his passions. The best we can hope to accomplish, in individual or in political life, is to keep the handsome passions in the majority. Men make their revolutions and accomplish their reforms not by the intellectual reasoning and mental control, but by going straight at the evils of which they complain and sweeping them away.

Wonderful is the effect of concerted action between the handsome passions. They operate in the open and it is easy to anticipate the next move they will make. The ugly passions, on the other hand, are difficult to come at, for they operate under cover and their purposes are not easy to discern. It is a common thing for us to cloak our purposes when they are improper, striving to make men see them as the things we say they are, masquerading them to cloths we put upon them.

The interesting thing is that the bad passions always lead to their own confusion. You have to have a good memory to keep on lying. I recall the cynical advice given by a politician to his son, "Don't worry about the lies people tell on you. They'll take care of themselves. But when you hear my denying something you may know it's so." Bad passions eat into themselves as acids do. They will be evident in the faces of the persons who harbor them. Their earmarks are evident in those who are made timid and afraid. Many of those which have ruled the world for awhile have not kept faith, for they had no faith to keep, and after awhile they bring about their own destruction.

Nor is it enough to say that truth is mighty and will prevail. The handsome passions will not triumph if you sit back. They must be encouraged. You must put on truth as if it were war paint. You must draw and use it as if it were a sword. You must everywhere and at all the time force the contest, if the handsome passions are to be in the majority.

And it is to be noticed that the bad passions always have a machine. But it is the lesson of the Scripture that men, everyday men, wholesome men, are capable of embodying truth in themselves, of living it in every act of their lives.

—Woodrow Wilson, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Oct. 29, 1911.

The Creator gave man control over but one thing–the privilege of directing his thoughts to any desired purpose and maintaining a mental attitude of his own choice. Failure to exercise this privilege may be disastrous. The person who does not control himself, his emotions, his thoughts and his deeds will never be able to control anything else.

—Woodrow Wilson, quoted by Napoleon Hill, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, Aug. 23, 1956.

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