Bubba is what we call our three year old. He’s an awesome kid. He can light up a room with his infectious grin. He’s a very happy kid who naturally attracts affection from everyone who sees him. I don’t think this is parental bias – I actually believe this about my son. But he has a problem. He has a compulsion. He’s addicted to apps.
Yes, you heard that right. He’s addicted to apps. On my wife’s phone. On her Kindle. Wherever he can find them. He’s got a compulsion – he MUST buy new apps.
The other night my wife and I were downstairs talking when our inbox received notification after notification about new apps that “we” had purchased and downloaded. I looked at the time stamp on the emails and exclaimed to my wife, “THIS IS HAPPENING NOW!” Mind you – it was 10 p.m. I bolted off the couch and went bounding up the stairs and burst into the kids’ room to discover that Bub had crept out of bed when the lights were off and parents were downstairs. He snuck into our bedroom and slipped Momma’s Kindle off of the charger and ran back to bed to download apps to his heart’s content. He’s done the same thing with my wife’s phone. In the past two weeks “we” have bought $20 in apps from the Kindle store. It’s kind of like the time our daughter purchased $200 in game tokens for a Facebook game, but that’s a story for a different post.
Anyway, back to Bubba. It’s almost like he can’t help himself. He has a problem. A gaming problem. Any time I hear people talk about having a problem my mind (being the movie fanatic that I am) always goes to the movie Airplane where the main character has a drinking problem.
While I find the word play amusing I understand that lack of self-control is not funny. It’s not just lack of self-control when it comes to alcohol, for there are quite a few areas where not having control leads to serious problems. As humans we often see lack of self-control in spending, alcohol, eating, sexuality, gossip, time management, and every other area of life.
Sometimes we try to play it off as though it’s no big deal. It’s only money. It’s only food. It’s my life – so what if I want to get hammered. The defensive talk goes on and on. The issue isn’t about what you have a right to do vs. what you are restricted from doing. The real issue is about the nature of God’s character and His intended goal for our character.
The Bible is not silent when it comes to self-control:
A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. (Proverbs 25:28)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. (I Timothy 3:2)
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness…. (2 Peter 1:5-6)
These are not even all of the passages relating to self-control. Clearly, then, there is something to this self-control thing that God desires us to wrap our minds around and to put into practice. Yet we fail time and again to do it. Why can’t we beat it? It seems to come down to gratification. We throw self-control out the window because we like the feeling of indulgence.
Please understand that this is not to negate the harmful power of physiological addiction on the body. But even then, one of the difficulties in breaking addiction is the strong pull back to gratification. To be honest, one of my greatest struggles with self-control is in the area of my eating. I love food. I love the feeling of consuming great tasting food. I like being full. I dislike being hungry. At least I’m not alone – there are a lot of overweight pastors. In fact, it seems to be the issue of choice for many pastors when it comes to lacking self-control. How many overweight pastors have you seen? There are a lot of us. Yet it’s impossible to deny that God calls us to self-control.
So we wrestle. We wrestle with the knowledge of what we know is God’s “best” for our lives – his desire for our character – and the sinful desire that attempts to satisfy human pleasure and refuse self-control.
Whatever you struggle with in your fight for self-control you should know that you are not alone. It’s part of the human condition. There’s something in all of us that wants to just let go in some area. Sometimes it is harmful, sometimes it is personal. It’s not about whether or not our self-control affects anyone else or not (I’ve heard many alcoholics say, “It’s my life – leave me alone”). What it is really about is that God is characterized by self-control and wants the same for us.
So you can start your journey today. Recognize what it is in your life that you lose self-control to. Make a plan to beat it. Tell someone and allow him to hold you accountable. Find a sponsor. Get into a program. Join a Bible study group. Do something, but don’t just sit back and allow your life to be dominated by your lack. It’s not God’s best for your life. You could be so much more.
And maybe one day we can break Bubba from his app addiction.
How about you? Where do you need self-control? Where do you struggle?