The Virtue of Self Control
Soliman the Wise said: “He who is slow to anger
is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit
than he who takes a city” (Pr 16:32).
So who is the one who rules his spirit? (Meaning
who controls himself?)
There is no doubt that self control includes
many factors among which:
Tongue control, mind control, control of the
senses, stomach control (from the eating point of
view), controlling desires and lusts, controlling nerves
(from the anger point of view) and controlling all
The wise says also: “In the multitude of words sin
is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.”
(Pr 10:19). And St James the Apostle says: “But no
man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of
deadly poison.” (Jas 3:28). And thus the apostle also
“If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a
perfect man, able also to bridle the whole
body.” (Jas 3:2).
And thus also the chanter pleas for God’s help
“Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep
watch over the door of my lips” (Ps 141:3).
And he who controls his tongue is saved
from many sins.
He never falls into insulting others by swearing,
mocking or harsh rebuking, nor threatening or being
proud over them. And never falls into lying,
exaggeration, swearing nor blaspheming… Neither in
shameless joking nor in chattering… Neither in false
information, in taking pride and self righteousness,
talking about oneself, condemning others, nor in
angry talking and even the bible says:
“Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his
peace” (Pr 17:28).
And controlling the lips has many positive
He who controls his lips gives himself a chance to
slow down and think before speaking and takes a
chance to choose the words, pick the suitable word
and calculate reactions to what he says.
Because the word you say is counted on you
regardless of how much you apologize for it.
So long as you have said it and it reached
people’s ears, minds and feelings it no longer
becomes your own to do whatever you want with it!
You can control it before you say it. But after you
speak it, it becomes in control of you because “For by
your words you will be justified, and by your words
you will be condemned” (Mt 12:37).
Suffice it to say that St. Arsanious once said:
“I often talked and regretted it. But for my
silence I never had any regrets.”
So control your tongue. Saints also used to
remain silent to give themselves a chance to pray and
meditate. And as the Spiritual Elder said: “hold your
tongue for your heart to pray” and said: “The
talkative indicates his emptiness from inside
(emptiness from the prayer work)” And said: “A wise
“Not all what is heard is said. And not all
what is said is written.””
Not all what you hear you repeat to the hearing of
others, otherwise you will cause problems among
people. And this can reach the level of gossip and
backbiting! And what is more dangerous is what you
write because it becomes a document against you.
And what is a sin by the tongue is a sin if
you think of it.
So guard your thoughts. And do not accept any
thought that comes to you. Aspire to keep your
thoughts pure. And if a sinful thought comes to you
beware from dealing with it and going far with it.
Expel it quickly so that it does not control you and
turn into feelings in your heart.
Take care from thoughts of anger revenge and
lust, from thoughts of condemning others and vain
thoughts, also from the thought of envy jealousy and
grudge, and from the thoughts of pride and vain
glory… And from every thought that does not glorify
God. And even if you could not listen to the proverb
If you cannot prevent the bird from hovering
around your head then at least do not let it build
a nest in your hair.
Do not keep sinful thinking inside your head. And
try to keep your mind busy all the time with useful
thoughts or spiritual meditations so that if the devil
fights your thoughts he never finds them free for
And there is also another way to control the mind
and it is through controlling the senses:
Controlling the Senses:
The senses are gates of the mind. So guard
Control the hearing, seeing and touching…, so
that they do not let in sinful thoughts. And may your
senses be pure. And regarding what your senses
sense out of your will, do not think of it and do not go
back to it with your own will…
The first look may be a coincidence or out of your
will. But the second look with no doubt is by your will
and you will be accounted for.
Know that your senses do not only bring you
thoughts but they may also stay in your
unconsciousness and then become dreams and
So controlling the senses then help in keeping a
pure mind and pure dreams and suspicions. And it
also helps in keeping pure feelings too.
Controlling the Feelings:
May your feelings be controlled. And if you find a
sinful feeling coming into your heart do not interact
with it but get it out quickly before it settles in you.
And try constantly to maintain the purity of your
Do not surrender to any covetousness or
But fight it, said St Paul the Apostle: “You have
not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin”
Do not make this evolve to worse…
Control your senses so that they do not bring in
thoughts. And if the thought comes, control it so that
it does not turn into a feeling or covetousness. And if
it reaches the lust level, control it so that it does not
turn into an action… and if it reaches the level of the
action, stop it quickly so that it does not turn into a
habit and controls you.
Force Yourself Constantly:
And know that forcing yourself trains you on
Force yourself to obey the commandment
and to be obedient and submissive.
Force yourself in obeying the Lord, and in obeying
Law and public order. Do not try to trick and go
against the law or against your conscience and do not
try to draw excuses. Do not allow your conscience to
widen so that it accepts many things…
Know that excuses and justifications are
dangerous enemies to self control. So do not excuse
yourself from any mistake you commit. And instead of
spoiling yourself try to straighten it and force it to do
good deeds and keep it away from all evil and any
form of evil.
Loving the Self:
Control yourself from the point of self loving. The
Lord said: “He who loves his life will lose it, and he
who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal
life” (Jn 12:25). So stay away from loving yourself
and loving the big part and best seats. And do not
prefer yourself over others. And do not make your
comfort comes on the expense of others’ labor. And if
you find yourself lead in a wrong way, adjust the
And control yourself from the side of
impulsiveness and rashness and from the side
of rushing into any fast decision.
If you found yourself nervous control your nerves,
control you your tongue, control you facial
expressions, control your moves and do not allow
yourself to make a mistake against any other person
even if they committed a mistake against you.
And control yourself from the side of using
It is good to enjoy the freedom but keep
your freedom controlled.
Let it be a pure freedom in which you do not do
what is improper. Let it be peaceful and wise freedom
that does not trespass on other people’s freedom or
rights or on the public order.
Free your heart first from all sins. And if you
are free from the inside you can use your
outside freedom with wisdom and in peace.
Know that if you are not controlled from the
inside you will be forced to be controlled from
As a human who is forced to be controlled by:
Law, custom and punishment. And as a son who can
not be controlled by himself, so is controlled by
discipline and his parents raising. And as any human
who is forced into control through fear…
And there is he who is forced into control though
being ashamed from people or afraid from being
exposed and from scandals.
Or a thief who is forced into controlling himself
temporarily out of fear from guards.
Or a human who is forced into controlling himself
as a result of rebuking.
Or as a result of the presence of things that
prevent him like the lack of ability, the lack of
opportunity or the resistance of others against him.
And they all are non spiritual reasons.
But the spiritual person controls himself
from the inside willingly because he loves
goodness, loves God and wants to straighten
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