I don’t know about you, but I have a habit of making hasty or poor decisions “just this once.” Just this once turns into just a couple times, turns into days, weeks, and months of the same type of decision. Whether that is related to spending, food, or some other area I may slip, I have a long history of struggling with it. I’ve gotten a lot better with it, but how often I have to fight certain impulses lets me know that I’m not where I want to be yet. Maybe I never will “get there,” which is probably fine, because it’ll just give me more chances to learn and exercise self control.
I am not of the belief that you should never make a frivolous purchase just to treat yourself or family, nor do I believe one should never take a cheat meal. What I do believe in is planning and choosing self control over impulse. That looks different in different settings. For example, with dieting, I try to plan my cheat meals. I had something to look forward to, which helped me resist temptations along the way, and through resisting I gained a better ability to resist. With spending, I’ve adopted the habit of waiting at least a day. If I see something I really want, I don’t buy it the first day. Sometimes that costs me the ability to buy it, which I just chalk up to God’s not wanting me to have it. I was recently offered a really good deal on something I really did want for one of my kids, but they insisted that I had to decide that day. The offer was only available the first time it was offered. I explained my conviction, thanked him for the offer, and moved on with my day.
Self control is one of those areas of my life that God has truly convicted me, probably because it had been one of my greatest areas of struggle. It’s a fruit of the Spirit, which means if I’m walking in the Spirit, I will see it. But it’s also a matter of protecting oneself from harm. I’ve come into a lot of harm (mostly financial and health related) from a lack of self control. God doesn’t want me to say, “no,” to things to steal my joy. He wants me to say it, because it’s better, healthier, and full for me to avoid certain things. Self control is given by God, through the Holy Spirit, to protect us and keep us. It’s a big deal. Don’t let yourself get overrun by your impulses, leaving yourself exposed to or suffering some sort of harm.