In Genesis 42, Joseph came face-to-face with his brothers, who sold him into slavery at a young age. Even while standing before them, he masterfully controlled his “self”—his emotions—as he sought to love, forgive, and provide for them in their time of need.
Where did his source of “self” come from? He put his trust in God—who would never fail him or leave him. While choosing to act in kindness might have been difficult, he recognized that no matter what, God was ultimately in control.
How many times have you looked back at something you’ve done or said and wished that you hadn’t? Maybe they were harsh words spoken in a burst of anger, or underlying thoughts that accidentally escaped.
When we’re in a bad mood or under stress, exercising self-discipline can be hard work. Just like our muscles need to be used in order to remain healthy, the muscles of self-control need to be used to build character.
Learning how to control your emotions is not a one-time event. We may think that in our own willpower, we can exercise self-control. However, our strength to change comes from God. It’s a process that we walk through, allowing us to recognize our need for Him and grow closer to Him as we rely on Him day after day.
This doesn’t mean that we don’t try our best, but rather, we realize that our best is rooted in our connection to Christ. Lasting change doesn’t occur overnight. Our impulses, bad habits, and “to-do lists” can pile up and make us easily distracted by the pressures of everyday life. Recognizing when we’re becoming overwhelmed allows us to exchange His strength for our weaknesses.