Monday, December 24, 2018

Outdoor Object Lesson 88: Self-Control, Man's Best Friend

Key Verse

“Don’t be deceived! “Evil companionships corrupt good morals.”” 1 Corinthians 15:33 (WEB)


Dogs are man’s best friend. It has been this way for thousands of years. There is something mysterious yet undeniable about it. Dogs are able to bond with their masters unlike most other animals. There is no other animal as popular for a pet as a dog. One of the key reasons for this is their faithfulness. Dogs can be faithful to their masters even to the point of laying down their life for their owner. Another reason is their usefulness. Dogs are capable of being trained to do numerous tasks. Dogs are incredibly smart and able to learn a wide variety of complex commands. Also, there are numerous dog breads with a wide variety of looks and temperaments. According to the American Kennel Club there are over 340 dog breads around the world. This variety means owners have many options to choose which size, color, temperament or other features suit their needs or desires.

Humans and dogs have a lot in common. Like humans, dogs can read facial expressions, display empathy, jealousy, anger and joy. They can show favoritism to one person over another. They can cooperate with us and with other dogs to accomplish a common task. Dogs are incredibly good at living with humans because they are social animals. In the wild, dogs are pack animals, and this makes forming a social bond with humans natural. Perhaps the biggest reason the two species get along so well is because we have more in common than different. Like humans, dogs have personal preferences and unique personalities. Dogs have been compared to human children in their intelligence and emotional expression. We understand each other well. It also helps that dogs are so loyal. They love us no matter what.

A recent study looking at humans and dogs found another interesting comparison. Both dogs and humans can exercise high levels of self-control. We are both able to control and resist impulses to do things that are not beneficial. This is an important skill for survival. It is key for forming and maintaining social bonds. The most surprising finding that resulted from the study was that after exerting self-control for a period of time, both humans and dogs had a diminishing ability to control their impulses. After resisting their impulses for an extended period in one area humans and dogs were more likely to give into their impulses in another area, to act more aggressively, and to have increased difficulty with problem solving. Basically, the longer they had to engage self-control, the harder it was to resist temptation.1

There is a spiritual lesson here for us humans to learn. The Bible informs us that we will face temptation in this life to do evil. Satan is constantly working to trick us into doing things we know are wrong. Paul tells us that we are in a war against our own impulses to do evil. It is something that we must fight every day. The Bible also warns us not to put ourselves into a place where we know we will be tempted. In the key verse we are warned that hanging out with the wrong crowd will make it hard for us to stick to good morals. If your friends are doing things you know are wrong, things that you are tempted to do, than staying around them is going to make it even harder for you to exercise self-control. The lesson here is that we should avoid putting our self in to tempting situations. As the study demonstrated, the longer we have to exert self-control, the more likely we will give in. We should avoid putting ourselves near temptation when possible. When it is not, God will give us power to resist. This quote states it well, “Those who operate through the Holy Spirit are more equipped to resist temptation.” – Monica Johnson


What is your favorite kind of dog?

Is it wrong to struggle with temptation?

What methods does the Bible provide for resisting temptation?

When will temptation go away?


1. Stanley Coren, “Self-Control in Dogs Is a Limited Resource,” Psychology Today online, last updated July 16, 2014,

Written by David F. Garner
Photo credit: Pexels via