When we think of someone with a lack of self-control, perhaps we turn to a historical figure like Henry VIII. Henry is known for his enormous appetite, six wives and multiple executions during his reign. One could say that he overindulged and had no self-control. But we don’t have to go back into history, most of us overindulge at the dinner table at Christmas, New Years’ Day, Thanksgiving or on other festive times. You might be wondering what controlling our appetites has to do with the fruit of self-control. Surely, Paul is talking about a different kind of control. Isn’t he? The self-control Paul talks about is sensual appetites and desires that requires not only mental but also physical self-control, something we all need more of.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5: 22-23
I Could Do with More Self-Control
Couldn’t we all! So how do we get more self-control over our bodies and minds? Where do we get that power? It is the Holy Spirit that gives us the ability to exercise self-control. So, there you have it folks, try as you might, on your own, the amount of self-control we need to be fruitful isn’t from within, it’s from the Holy Spirit. That is a relief and takes the pressure off us as we turn to God and ask him for another measure of self-control. We don’t have to do it by ourselves. Let’s run to our Abba Father and ask him for the self-control we need.
Okay, it can help us control our appetite and maybe lose a pound or two, but what else can it do? Besides keeping us from sensual sins, what benefits does self-control have?
Creates Harmony, Not Discord
A gentle response, rather than words spoken hastily in anger, creates harmony. Controlling our tempers doesn’t mean that we can’t be upset, but maybe it is that proverbial counting to ten before speaking that creates peace in the family or the workplace. Disciplining a child should be a controlled event, not a cuff over the head with curses angrily spoken. Relationships flourish rather than diminish when the fruit of self-control is exercised.
Strengthens our Relationship with God
This is a rich one. With a strengthened relationship in God, often our other relationships are strengthened too. The graphic illustration of a vertical relationship with God means a horizontal relationship with people. While this is often true, it isn’t always so. New believers from other religions embrace Christ, often at great costs. What is most precious is Jesus Christ and him alone. Paul understood that when he said, “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things” (Philippians 3: 8). We don’t know how Paul’s family took his conversion to Jesus Christ, but being Pharisees, I imagine some members were not happy with him. Yet, he held himself in control to follow Christ. Furthermore, he often likened the Christian life to that of an athlete in training. Athletes require lots of self-control. Self-control encourages perseverance which means the prize at the end of the race will be won.
What area of your life requires more self-control? How will you acquire that added measure of self-control?
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