Blooming • Self-Control
Donna Fox | Assistant to the Growth Pastor
“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
What is self-control? If there’s a candy bar on your desk, do you pick it up and eat it without thinking first? (Note: I speak from experience here!) If someone angers you, do you fly off the handle? Self-control, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, is having control over your feelings or actions. Wikipedia goes further to explain that self-control is the ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behavior in the face of temptations and impulses.
There are several examples of people exhibiting self-control in the Bible, from Joseph to Job to Jesus, and several examples of people not exhibiting self-control, from Eve to Samson (and on and on!). But how do you obtain self-control? It begins at the time of salvation, and it grows or becomes more apparent, and as you mature in your Christianity. The Holy Spirit, being in the Word, and learning through a Growth Community lesson, will all help you learn right from wrong, good from evil. You will conscientiously begin to make different decisions based on this new found knowledge. You will begin to THINK before you ACT and decide – do I need to eat that candy bar or this apple? Do I need to go into that bar or should I keep driving? Should I yell in anger, or count to 10 and calm down first? You will begin to exercise self-control to avoid temptations. When you know that you can do something that is not good for you, but do not, that is self-control!
The Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 is from the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:16-17 says, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” Worldly things tempt us, but we have free will to decide as to what to do when faced with that temptation. Do we give in to our worldly desire, or do we exercise self-control?
The first step is to control our thoughts. By controlling our thoughts, we can then control our actions. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “Take every thought captive to obey Christ.” As soon as a negative or bad thought creeps in, think of something else. Philippians 4:8 gives a nice list, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Another way to gain self-control is to avoid temptations. Luke 22:40 reads, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 adds, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
Lastly, we all make mistakes. Forgive yourself and move forward. The prophet Jeremiah, in verse 31:34 says, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” If Jesus forgives your iniquities, should you not also forgive yourself for your loss of self-control? Start again fresh each hour, each day, and let the Holy Spirit guide you in your thoughts and actions.
“What lies in our power to do, lies in our power not to do.” – Aristotle