As we wrap up our Fruit of the Spirit study, today we land on self-control. Let me be frank, I had a hard time with this one. I didn’t exhibit the best self-control in trying to get this post written. Because it speaks to one of my weaknesses, I found other things to do besides writing this (and am typing at the 11th hour to get it in for submission). *Sigh* Why is it, this Fruit, so hard?
When I first thought about this notion of self-control, what cropped up right away was “food.” And while I do love a good cake (and may or may not have a slightly unhealthy craving for Coca-Cola), I don’t really struggle with self-control when it comes to food. I don’t struggle with addiction, and I don’t really have any investment in any particular TV show that prevents me from getting adequate sleep or interferes with my ability to function as an adult. So, why does it stress me out to be writing about self-control?
After a good bit of thought, I realized it’s because what I struggle with having any self-control over are my thoughts and the way I feel about myself…what goes on in between my ears and down that pathway to my precious, beating heart. And then what I realized is that it’s essentially all the same—whether its negative self-talk or binge eating or excessive drinking or continuous TV streaming to the point of perpetual sloth. Or maybe it’s anger. Or fear. It’s all the same. It’s all about a lack of being in control of self. It’s a lack of moderation, a willingness to let the internal roller coaster dictate, and an inability to maintain balance.
So, why is maintaining self-control important? What does it matter? Proverbs 25:28 tells us plainly,
“Losing self-control leaves you as helpless as a city without a wall.”
This tells me that I need to recognize that I can certainly be my own worst enemy. How well do I know that’s true! You know, I really don’t want to be teetering on the edge of anything (outside of the occasional trip to Carowinds for a little bit of fun). I’d rather walk along a steady path, even if it’s not a straight one. Now, sometimes life just doesn’t work that way, but what God wants for us is to maintain our inner balance.
“The Law of the Lord is a lamp, and its teachings shine brightly. Correction and self-control will lead you through life” (Proverbs 6:23).
When we live with the goal of maintaining our self-control we are less likely to fall for the enemy’s tempting, too, or to believe the lies he tells us. If I can control my thoughts and my tongue, then perhaps I won’t find myself saying or doing things I’ll regret later. Exerting self-control means stepping away from sin.
Fortuitously, I recently saw a post by Lisa Harper (if you haven’t found her on facebook, you should look her up…she’s an amazing witness to Christ and a strong example for moms everywhere, but especially single moms). And she reminds me of what God needed me to see and hear and feel in contemplating this Fruit…
I believe staying in the Word and finding myself in prayer can go a long way to help me maintain my self-control—so that in my decision-making, I’m working from the position of “beneficial, respectful and God-honoring” as Lisa points out. If I fill myself up with the things of God, then there is less room for whatever temptations come my way (whether its more cake, or another Coke, or unkind words to myself).
My wish for you, for me, for everyone, is that we can intentionally work toward living out all of the Fruits each day, and in doing so, we can grow a little closer to our loving and forgiving Father, as well as to each other. God bless you, friends.