In Galatians, Paul gives us a list of things that constitute what he calls the Fruit of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV). The very last fruit that Paul includes on the list is self-control. Self-control – uh oh! It’s not bad enough that we have to be patient (impatience is one of my big downfalls!), kind, gentle, etc, but then he adds self-control to the list. Surely he jests!
Upon thinking about this subject of self-control, I am sure that Paul chose each of those “fruits” deliberately, and carefully, including self-control. Dictionary.com defines self-control as: control or restraint of oneself or one’s actions, feelings; self-discipline, self-restraint, willpower, levelheadedness. Well now, that’s quite a tall order isn’t it?
You can’t go to the store and buy self-control. And, you can’t have someone else give you self-control, or exercise self-control on you. No, obtaining self-control is something you have to get yourself. Having someone else take an item away from you because it’s no good for you, or causes you to stumble, or, perhaps not purchase your favorite thing in which you like to indulge, doesn’t constitute self-control on your part. That’s why “self” is in the compound word that we’re talking about. Strength in self-control over those things which tempt you grows over time. It’s like a muscle that you must exercise, the more you exercise it the stronger your self-control gets. Ask any recovering alcoholic about the dangers of giving into temptation – cave into your temptation, let go of your self-control, give into that temptation and you can easily, and quickly, begin to go down a slippery slope.
There are so many things in this world to tempt us, and the enemy makes sure to hold them up to us. I am fairly sure that for many of us there can be multiple things that plague our self-control. Constant barrages from the enemy makes self-control an impossible goal to obtain. Sounds like a Catch 22 doesn’t it? We have to get self-control over ourselves but we are unable to do so, or are we?
Remember when I said that we have get self-control by ourselves, well that’s partly true. When we turn our lives over to Jesus and accept Him as Lord, God gives us the Holy Spirit to reside within us. And the Holy Spirit helps us to become more like Jesus. Therefore, the power of the Holy Spirit allows us to grow the fruits of the Spirit within us. God’s Word tells us that we can call upon God’s mighty power to overcome the schemes that the enemy uses to trip us up, just the same as Jesus did when Satan tempted Him in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11). But, there is a caveat here, we must pay heed to the Holy Spirit’s prompting or we will quench the Spirit. Quench the Spirit, and you’ve lost a vital connection to your spiritual well being.
Call upon Him dear ones – He will help you in all things, even with that pesky self-control issue.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,” (Titus 2:11, ESV)
“and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” (Psalms 50:15, ESV)