Discover more from Grounded in the Bible
How to Stay Motivated to Remain Self-Controlled, Part 2
Self-Control Word Study, Lesson 11
Last week, we began our discussion on how to remain motivated to persevere in our pursuit of self-control. We found that the best way to stay motivated is to fix our eyes on God because God is the only true source of hope and strength. When all we can see is our past failures and our weaknesses, when we become weary in doing what is right, then we must rely on God to give us hope and strength to keep going. To keep making those positive changes that grow us to be more like Christ. To keep doing those things that he has called us to do.
This week, we’ll take a look at one more reason that we should fix our eyes on Jesus to remain motivated. Fixing our eyes on Jesus helps us be more concerned about the most important things—the eternal things—rather than the things of this world.
To help you process your thoughts as you go throughout this lesson, a reflection journal sheet is available. You can access it by clicking here.
Reason 3: God Gives Us an Eternal Perspective
When it comes to self-control, many times we make choices that feel good in the here and now while forgetting to look at the long-term impact of the choices we make. The choices we make often have positive results now but negative results later if we make that same choice consistently. For example, one area I struggle with is with food. My choice to grab fast food for dinner has positive results now of tasting good, being less work, and being faster than making something myself. But if I make this choice consistently, eventually that will end in weight gain and a decrease in health. In addition, I often feel that I’ve made food an idol in my life, which hurts my spiritual life as well.
To reverse this trend, we need to focus on the long-term—the eternal. By fixing our eyes on God, we can be more concerned about following God and reaping eternal rewards than we are concerned about pleasing ourselves, which leads to destruction. This is clear in the following verses:
Galatians 6:7-9 – Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 – Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
These verses remind us that as humans, it’s natural to pick the easy way out, to do what pleases the flesh. It’s easy to become weary of always trying to do the right thing. Physically, it can feel like our energy is draining away. But these verses also remind us that if we fix our eyes on Jesus, we will be renewed each day. If we focus on pleasing God, he will give us the strength follow him, and we will reap an eternal reward. That’s way more important than any earthly reward or temporary pleasure.
To do this, we need to phrase our goals in a way that focuses on God first. For example, my goals for food shouldn’t be to eat less, or eat healthy foods, or lose weight. It’s not even about banning fast food or sugar in my life. It’s about having my mind fixed on God rather than on food. It’s about using food in a way that is honoring to God rather than serving myself, just like Daniel and his friends did in Daniel 1. Then, when I feel like I don’t have the strength to make the best choice, I know that I don’t have to rely on my own strength. I can depend on God to give me his strength, because I know that I am pursuing him first.
What are some ways that we can keep this eternal perspective in mind? We’ll look at two of them.
Remember That We Work for God
We are often driven by our own expectations or the expectations of others. We work to please others (think: work, spouse, kids, parents, friends), and the weight of those expectations often drags us down. They are a source of weariness. The Bible tells us that what we should be doing instead is remembering that ultimately, all the work we do is for God. This gives us the eternal perspective we need to keep working, as we see in these verses:
Colossians 3:23-24 – Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
1 Corinthians 15:58 – Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
What is the “labor in the Lord” that God has called you to right now? For some, it may be parenting your children in a way that is pleasing to God. For others, it might be working faithfully at your job to provide for your family. Still others may be called to ministry either locally or globally. For me, part of my labor for God is writing Grounded in the Bible. This labor may look different for different people, and the work often has multiple components. For example, you may have a job to provide for your family, kids to raise, a house to manage, and volunteer work to give back. Each one of these may have a component of working for the Lord in different ways. You can approach each one with an eternal perspective.
Remember That God Is Working to Perfect Your Faith
So now we’ve come to a place where we know that we need to have our eyes fixed on God. We need to focus on the eternal perspective so we depend on God to give us hope and strength rather than depending on ourselves. Yet in the moment, we still feel the struggle. We still feel we are being tested. We feel the strain of having to persevere when times are tough. We believe that Satan is attacking us to keep us from pursuing God wholeheartedly.
The Bible tells us to embrace those times, because that is how God works to perfect our faith. Last week, we read Hebrews 12:1-2. Let’s read that one again:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
One of the reasons we fix our eyes on Jesus is because he is the only one who can perfect our faith. Often, that process is painful, as we learn a few verses later in Hebrews 12:11:
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
This training or testing may be painful, but if we focus on the eternal perspective, we know that the trials bring the greatest reward—maturity in our faith and the crown of life—eternal life. This is evident in James:
James 1:2-4, 12 – Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
When we struggle in life, whether that is with self-control or something else, it’s important to remember that the struggle to become continually more like Christ is always worth it. We don’t have to face that struggle alone. God is there to give us hope and strength.
Think back through this entire series on self-control. What area have you identified that you need to change? Where do you need to have more self-control in your life? Or self-denial? Or self-discipline? When are you most likely to slip back into old habits? When do you feel the least motivated to make the needed changes in your life? How can you use an eternal perspective to make the right choice in the hardest moments?
As you go through this process, remember that you are not alone. Every single person has areas of struggle. None of us are perfect. As for me, even though I know that I need to focus on the eternal perspective, I still struggle to make the best choices even in the easiest moments, much less the hardest moments. Throughout this study, you’ve heard some of my story and struggles. I’d love to hear your story so we can support each other as a community of believers. Feel free to comment below, or if you want a more private setting, head over to our private Facebook group. I’d love to connect with you.
To help you process your thoughts as you go throughout this lesson, a reflection journal sheet is available. Journal sheets can be downloaded and used now or later. They can be printed and filled in by hand or saved and filled out electronically.
You can access all the resources for this study by clicking here: Premium Resources
Two BONUS sheets are also available! You can download these resources by clicking the blue links below.