Who would ever hop into a car, turn on the ignition, step on the accelerator, and head down the road, without having a firm grip on the steering wheel? No one who expects to drive safely, certainly. When you're behind the wheel you simply cannot forfeit control.
In case you haven't noticed, when it comes to self-control - whether it's one's emotions, appetite, behavior, abilities, or even one's health - a lot of people have been letting go of the steering wheel.
"I couldn't help it" is frequently an excuse for bad behavior. "It's not a choice; that's just the way I am" is someone's justification for a hot temper or an out-of-control appetite. "I'm not very coordinated," explains a struggling sports player. "I want to feel better, but I can't control how my body feels," argues a sufferer of chronic pain.
It may not be obvious at first, but such comments point to what could be described today as the biochemicalization of society. The objective is to reduce every thought, feeling, and action to some nearly invisible biological speck or chemical function of matter. This suggests that until we more fully understand and control matter's fundamental properties, we shouldn't expect to control our bodies or our thinking adequately, and thus our health, our emotions, and so forth.
Aware of the dangers of a mind-set that relinquishes self-control, Mary Baker Eddy, who in 1866 discovered Christian Science, called for a change in such thinking. She urged people to exercise God-given control of themselves.
Her seminal work "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" tells readers, "Take possession of your body, and govern its feeling and action." It goes on to explain what years of research, prayer, and experience had taught her: that one's ability to do this comes from God. "God has made man capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on man" (Pg. 393).
From the earliest days of Christianity, all kinds of diseases were healed, deformity was restored to normality, insanity was cured, blindness and deafness were healed, all solely through spiritual means. This evidence, together with her own experience, proved to Mary Baker Eddy that spiritualization of thought and Christian living are the way to true self-control and thus to well-being.
Centuries earlier, another Christian also warned people not to let themselves be influenced by the worldly, materialistic environment in which they lived. "Be not conformed to this world," he wrote, "but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Rom. 12:2).
The times we live in, too, call for a shift in thinking. If we are to take the best control of our lives and our health, then we need to be more spiritually-minded. We cannot safely ignore God, divine Spirit.
God is our origin. That means that our real nature is spiritual, not material. It also means that God makes the laws - laws of Spirit and of Love - that govern us and produce harmony and health.
Again, leading a more spiritual and Christian life is the way to this harmony and health. This requires that we think less of material theories and more of the reality of Spirit, God. Let spirituality and goodness permeate our thoughts. This is how to exercise proper self-control.
No one wants to ride in an out-of-control car. It's not natural and it's not safe. The same is true when it comes to our bodies - what we feel and how we act. Fuller and healthier lives are ours as we claim God's control of our lives. And there is no better way to do this than by putting God, Spirit, first.
Then said they unto him,
What shall we do, that we might
work the works of God?
Jesus answered and said
unto them, This is the work
of God, that ye believe on him
whom he hath sent.
John 6:28, 29