Paul said, ‘You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.’
If you’re serious about spiritual growth, look for opportunities to say no to yourself in small areas. Then one day you will be able to say it when it really counts. Daniel started by saying no to eating the king’s food, and later was able to say no to bowing to the king’s idols. Zero in on the undisciplined areas of your life; the ones you keep excusing, rationalising, and delaying dealing with. Paul measured his actions by this yardstick: ‘Is it beneficial? Does it have the potential to control me?’ (see 1 Corinthians 6:12).
You have a ‘right’ to eat a tub of ice cream every night if you want. It’s permissible—but it’s not ‘beneficial’, especially if you want unblocked arteries, a trim waistline, the ability to run a marathon, or to just keep up with your kids and grandkids. You have a ‘right’ to spend your money as you please, but don’t complain when you end up strangled by debt. You have a ‘right’ to look at whatever you want on TV or the internet, but exposure to wrong influences will inevitably weaken your character, rob you of self-respect, and enslave you.
Bottom line: your character is the sum total of the choices you make each day. And one more thought: when it comes to replacing bad habits with good ones, the only person who can make that happen is you!