Paul instructs Titus to look for people who exercise self-control, because they are the ones who lead best by example. Self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit according to Paul’s letter to the Galatians; “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.”

Self-control is not a popular idea in today’s market. We are prompted to have everything and anything we want right now and there’s no need to wait. We are even taught in the media that unfulfilled or repressed desires and drives lead to great harm. Yet, the very opposite is true. When desire gains the upper hand it is always deadly. It always results in more pain and seldom comes through on it promises. Self-control is nothing more than delaying gratification at the moment for some greater gratification in the future. Self-control is learning to put off the pleasures of the moment for greater rewards in the future. The rewards of the moment are always temporary and according to Jesus will not last. That’s why he tells us to lay up for ourselves rewards in heaven where neither rust nor decay can touch them.”

Self-control serves us all well as proven by one psychologist. At a preschool on the Stanford University campus he told children that they could have a single treat, such as a marshmallow, right now. However, if they would wait while the experimenter ran an errand, they could have two marshmallows. Some preschoolers grabbed the marshmallow immediately, but others were able to wait what, for them, must have seemed an endless 20 minutes. To sustain themselves in their struggle, they covered their eyes so they wouldn’t see the temptation, rested their heads on their arms, talked to themselves, sang, even tried to sleep. These plucky kids got the two-marshmallow reward. The interesting part of this experiment came in the follow-up. The children who as 4-year-olds had been able to wait for the two marshmallows were, as adolescents, still able to delay gratification in pursuing their goals. They were more socially competent and self-assertive, and better able to cope with life’s frustrations. In contrast, the kids who grabbed the one marshmallow were, as adolescents, more likely to be stubborn, indecisive, and stressed.

“God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7