I stood in the kitchen with a spoon in one hand and a container of pasta salad in the other. I was shoveling it in, not because I was hungry but because it was there. No, that was not weeks ago long before thinking deep about self-control. That was just the other day when I was in the middle of writing this. I had no self-control.
The Fruit of the Spirit
Paul is writing Galatians to believers who were adding bits of the law to the gospel. In Chapter 5 Paul reminds them that Christ has set them free. Our freedom is not a freedom to do what we please. We need to be walking by the Spirit. We are not to be walking as the flesh. Our lives should reflect the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Now, we get to the end of the list, self-control.
What is Self-control?
The Greek word that is used in this list is egkrateia which means mastery, self-control. When we master our math facts we know them in order and out of order. The same way we need to be masters of our selves. The word also has the meaning of inner strength. The inner strength to master ourselves.
Self-control does not come from me trying harder to do what is right and not do what is wrong. Remember this is a fruit of the Spirit so the strength to have the self-control comes from walking and living by the Spirit.
God Displays Self-Control
Just as all of the fruit, God is not asking us to do something that he is not demonstrating. God’s self-control is seen in the fact we are still here. Because of His love and mercy, we see his self-control.
Why is Self-control important?
Not far from where we live is an old Roman city with city walls. When we visit there we enjoy walking the city walls. The walls were built to protect the residents of the city from those out of the city. The walls keep residents in and enemies out.
That is what Solomon is referring to in Proverbs 25:28. “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” (ESV)
A city with broken walls is weak and it has no protection from those outside. The strength of the city is gone. The city is in ruin. Think about that for a minute. That really demonstrates the importance of self-control in our lives.
Self-control gives strength. Self-control can protect us.
Paul writes about athletes and the self-control that they have in 1 Corinthians 9:25. Athletes are able to do this because they have a goal – the prize. Athletes learn to say, “no” to some things that will weaken them – junk food, smoking, and other things. They learn to say, “yes” to things that will strengthen themselves and improve their performance – practice, healthy foods, and sleep.
Self-control gives us the strength to be and do all that God wants.
How do we grow in self-control?
Self-control comes as we walk with the Spirit. We need to be talking and listening to the Spirit. If I had been listening to the Spirit, I would have been told that shoveling pasta salad was not a self-controlled action.
What areas of your life do you need to grow in self-control? Finances, physical, spiritual, communication, use of time, relationships?
What is God asking you to do in that specific area?
As you look in God’s Word, what do you learn about the specific area?
What would a self-controlled action or response look like?
How can begin to display the fruit of the Spirit, Self-control?
Think about your goals for the year, how does self-control help you in reaching these goals? Do you need to grow in self-control to be and do all that God wants?
Don’t confuse the Fruit of the Spirit, self-control with what the world tries to sell. The world says that you just need to find the strength within to control yourself. But the Bible says that The Holy Spirit gives us the strength.
How are you growing in self-control? What is an area that you want to focus on?