Fruit of the Spirit: Self-Control
Well, I decided it was finally time to finish my Fruit of the Spirit study. We never quite finished it in small group, as we moved on to other topics, but I at least wanted to wrap it up here. We are now down to the last fruit: self-control. What is self-control? I like the description Matthew Henry gives in his commentary, although the word “temperance” is used there:
“temperance, in meat and drink, and other enjoyments of life, so as not to be excessive and immoderate in the use of them…”
In thinking about self-control, I at first wanted to break it into two separate parts: controlling oneself so as not to do “bad” things, and controlling oneself so as not to over-indulge in the good. However, I think we can lump them together if we look at things just a little bit differently and a little bit broader. I think self-control as a fruit of the Spirit means to take ownership of your actions so as to live out your life in a godly and holy manner, rather than choosing sinful actions. But what is sin?
Sin is really a perversion, one way or the other, of the gifts that God has given us--either by making them our focus, using them in the wrong ways, or failing to use them for God's glory. For example, God has given us rational minds and mouths to speak – but from that mouth we can choose to speak words that build others up or words that tear others down. It’s about self-control of the tongue and words.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”—Ephesians 4:29
Likewise, God gave us good things to enjoy. Take food, for example. Food is good; it nourishes us and (depending on the food!) is enjoyable to consume. But we can turn even that into sin if we become overindulgent. It's about self-control over our desires and actions.
“If you find honey, eat just enough—
too much of it, and you will vomit.” -- Proverbs 25:16
(Side note: We used this verse recently in our children’s program at church. Try teaching elementary school kids a Bible verse with the word vomit in it. Seriously.)
I think Paul explains the crux of what sin is in the book of Romans:
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – Romans 1:25
When something else becomes more important to us than God, that is when we sin. We choose to believe the lie that something other than God can bring us fulfillment and focus on the “things” we’ve been given and how we can use them, rather than focusing on God, and using all we have for his glory. Using self-control involves continually turning yourself over to God, and immersing yourself in truth so that you can recognize and say “no” to the lies that assault us on every side. This is why Peter tells us:
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. --1 Peter 5:8
The book of Proverbs tells us:
Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control. --Proverbs 25:28
A lack of self-control is simply makes you vulnerable to the deceitfulness of sin and corruption. On the contrary, living a self-controlled life and living by the power of God’s Spirit allows us to be faithful disciples and effective witnesses for the gospel. I will leave you with these words from the apostle Peter as a reminder of what God has given us and of our responsibility and privilege to live a life characterized by self-control and the other Fruits of the Spirit:
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
“Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” – 2 Peter 1:3-11
Hi there! My name is Dana and I live in West Michigan with my husband, Tom and our dog Happy Gilmore. I created this space as a place to share the things I learn along this journey I call life. I work in marketing and I'm a sort of Jane of All Trades, interested in all things nature, gardening, cooking, exploring and learning new things. This blog is a conglomeration of my interests, hobbies, life and life lessons. Thanks for stopping by!