It is generally not a good idea to get in my way when I’m hungry. Hunger has a way of bypassing my higher brain functions and leaving me with a version of myself that I am often not proud of. I’m more aggressive, less patient, and generally more likely to say something I’ll regret later. I can only imagine what I would be like if I were ever to experience real hunger!
Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness. We learn from Luke 4:2 that “… he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.” What an understatement! Forty days without food is right on the edge of human tolerance. Jesus wasn’t just hungry; He was literally starving to death.
By that point, His body would have used up all of its fat reserves and would have started digesting muscle just to stay alive. In that condition, I would hardly be able to blame Him if He caved in to a little selfishness … if He acted a little less Jesus-like, and a little more me-like. Yet that’s not what He did. He did not allow His circumstances to dictate His behavior. Through it all Jesus stayed focused.
It’s not easy to control the flesh. We are creatures consumed by many different hungers. We long for food, sex, love, control, security, and more. Given their proper place, these hungers help us to live and thrive, but when these hungers are allowed to grow beyond their natural boundaries the results are obesity, sexual immorality, idolatry, pride, and self-sufficiency.
If we are to follow Christ, then we must learn to practice self-control. Galatians 5:23 teaches that self control is a fruit of the Spirit. God had given the believer the Holy Spirit, and by extension, His self-control. We only need to use it.
It is no coincidence that the tradition of Lent has historically included some form of self-control discipline. Jesus prepared for His ministry by exercising His self-control muscles in the wilderness. We need to follow His example.
How are you doing when it comes to controlling your desires?
Is there an area of your life (or marriage) that could benefit from more self-control?