Our society runs on instant gratification. Amazon wouldn’t be as successful if it weren’t for our incessant need to have things right now. The word “abstinence” is defined as mastering self-control, self-discipline and delayed gratification. The definition of abstinence doesn’t just refer to sex. It goes way beyond waiting for marriage to have sex. In order to abstain from anything – including sex – abstinence must become a part of your general lifestyle.
The first component of an abstinent lifestyle is self-control.
Not doing something you want to do when you want to do it is self-control. There’s an old Lays Potato Chip ad that says, “You can’t eat just one?” Self -control says, “Yes, I can eat just one. In fact, I can take it to the next level and not eat any at all, even if there’s an open bag sitting right in front of me.”
Self-control is being able to govern your body and mind. It’s controlling your thoughts and actions. It’s living a life centered on God and always focused on His best intentions for each moment and person.
The second component of an abstinent lifestyle is self-discipline.
Self-discipline is actually different than self-control. Self-discipline is doing something you don’t want to do. Like taking out the trash. No one really likes taking out the trash. But, if everybody refused to do it, eventually it would pile up and start to stink. It’s hard to take care of certain “garbage” in your life, you’d prefer to ignore it and hope it goes away. But you take on self-discipline, so people won’t be exposed to the junk of your life.
Homework is another great example. It isn’t necessarily fun, but you do it for a future reward: you won’t have to repeat the class, you’ll get a good grade, you might be accepted into a good college. There’s plenty in life that you’d rather do, but most of life is about disciplining yourself to do what has to be done so you can enjoy what you want to do later.
The third component of an abstinent lifestyle is delayed gratification.
Delayed gratification is the consistent practice of both self-control and self-discipline, because you realize there’s a future reward if you practice those skills on a regular basis. In fact, delayed gratification recognizes that the future reward is far greater than the fleeting thrill of instant gratification.
These three components build a strong character. You’ll learn to see God’s goodness more clearly and be able to focus on His intentions for your life rather than pursuing your own ideals.
There’s a reason we tend to think of sex when it comes to the word abstinence. Numerous studies have shown that people who are the happiest and most satisfied sexually are those who waited until marriage to have sex. This requires self-control, self-discipline and delayed gratification. Those who wait are richly rewarded.
In order to practice successful sexual abstinence, you’ll need to practice abstinence in other areas of your life as well. The more areas you practice abstinence, the stronger you’ll be and the easier it will become to know when to act out your self-control, self-discipline and delayed gratification.
If you’ve already lost your virginity, you can still invest time and effort into self-control, self-discipline and delayed gratification. While you can never get your virginity back physically, you can regain it emotionally, psychologically, spiritually and relationally. Ask God to heal this area of your life and find strength in Him as you walk toward a sex free life (until marriage of course) that honors His desire for your heart.
Setting a Goal
If you’re interested in developing a more abstinent life, create a long-term goal to help you build them into your life. Set a goal of something significant such as your High School or College graduation, living until you’re 100 years old, being able to run a marathon at age 60, retiring at age 50, being happily married until death do you part, etc. These aren’t little goals, but they will help you develop self-control, self-discipline and delayed gratification one moment at a time. You don’t have to be perfect each day to obtain these goals, but if you have something set in your mind for your future, you’ll be more willing to adjust your lifestyle in pursuit of these long-standing goals. You have to begin making decisions today that will lead you toward your goal tomorrow.
Know that God placed these long-term desires on your heart, and He wants to see you succeed in reaching them. He will help you, guide you, give you strength and encourage you. He will do all this while walking beside you as you make abstinence a part of your lifestyle.