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Adorned - Week 8: A "Sophron" State of Mind

Do you want more self-control? If so, Mary says we need to deal with the beliefs behind our behavior rather than merely focusing on fixing our behavior.

About the Speaker

Mary Kassian

Mary Kassian

Mary Kassian is an award-winning author, an internationally-renowned speaker, and a frequent guest on Revive Our Hearts. She has written more than a dozen books and Bible studies, including …

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Watch the drama that accompanies this message: Pretty Okay Café

Mary Kassian: Look at this . . . mmm. (laughter) If you are watching TV, and I put a big bowl of chips in front of you, and I said to you, “Bet you can’t eat just one!” Do you think you would be able to stop munching after just one chip?

That slogan: “Bet you can’t eat just one!” was one of the longest running ads in television history. The series of potato chip commercials launched in the mid-60s, and the first one featured a split screen of a well-known actor and then the actor dressed up as the devil.

So the devil—the red-horned, pointy-tailed demon—tempts the look-alike with an open bag of chips. “Bet you can’t eat just one!” And after the first bite, the actor grabs the chips out of the devil’s hands and wolfs the rest of them down. They are irresistible. No one can eat just one.

Over the past fifty years, we’ve seen a parade of actors and athletes and well-known celebrities in the commercials. All of them tried to stop after eating one, but—guess what? They couldn’t! The urge for another chip was so strong that they couldn’t resist.

It’s a clever slogan. And I think the reason it’s had such a successful run is that it’s true. It’s hard to eat just one. It’s tough to eat one. You open the bag, and you tell yourself, “Oh, I’m just going to have a few.” And before you know it, you’ve eaten them all. Has that ever happened to you?

Chips aren’t really my thing. But ice cream? Boy! Give me some ice cream, and . . . yes! It happened to me the other week. It was gone before I knew it!

It’s not just food that’s difficult to resist. It’s hard to put on the brakes in other areas of our lives as well—like anger or lust, resentment, self-pity, addiction, overspending, self-indulgence, procrastination. The problem isn’t that we don’t know that these things are bad for us. We know that they are. The challenge is having the self-control to do what we know we ought to do.

Paul tells Titus in chapter 2, verses 4 and 5, that “older women are to train the young women to be self-controlled.”

Now, the quality of self-control isn’t just for women. It’s mentioned in the book of Titus for elders and for older men and for younger men. Everybody needs self-control.

But I think there are aspects of self-control that a woman who’s been there, done that, can teach another woman more effectively than a man.

  • For example: How to exercise self-control at “that time of the month.”
  • Or during those years of exhaustion—nursing babies and carrying for toddlers.
  • Or when our hormones are completely rewiring our emotional systems.

As a woman, we can help each other. As women, we can help each other handle the challenges of life from a woman’s point of view. A girlfriend can tell you, “Honey, that’s just your hormones talking.” Can you imagine if your husband tried to tell you that? (laughter)

Self-control isn’t exclusive to womanhood, but it does have a unique gender-specific application. And that’s why Paul instructed older women to teach the younger women this very important trait.

Now, self-control is the “I will” power to say "yes" to what’s good and the “I won’t” power to say "no" to what’s bad. I can’t claim to have arrived. Self-control is a battle for me as I’m sure it is for you. There are some areas in my life—exercise, for example—where I constantly take two steps forward and a step-and-a-half back, sometimes three steps back.

  • When we know what we ought to do but don’t do it, we lack self-control.
  • When we’ve had more than enough …
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Woman to woman.
Older and younger.
Side by side.
Life on life.
This is God's good and beautiful plan.