Here it is the last day of April and we’ve come to the final attribute of the Fruit of the Spirit.
How on earth did that happen?!
Honestly, I’m in some serious denial that May is nearly here. Today, the weather is gorgeous here in Iowa – we’re talking 80 degrees and sunny. That would probably be enough to convince me summer is around the corner… IF it was going to stick around. But now I’m just going to stay in this denial/confusion for awhile longer it seems, since we have a chance of snow flurries (yes, snow) by the end of the week.
Oh Iowa, I love you and your seasons…but I wouldn’t mind some solid upper 70s for a few weeks. You know, before we hit 100+ every day.
Alrighty, now that my little rant is out of the way, let’s just jump right into self-control! (because ranting is such a great illustration of it, right?)
I was actually dreading this part of the study a little bit. Mostly because I’ve been struggling in this area recently. But, of course, that’s always a sure sign it’s what I need to be studying and learning more about.
I think the word self-control is a little deceiving at first. The word itself implies this is something you should be able to master on your own. But how many people try (over and over again) to have self-control in an area and fail miserably? How many of us have “dieted” and lost weight only to gain it back again? Who hasn’t resolved to not react in anger and then lost their temper?
The fact of the matter is, it might be called SELF-control, but it isn’t something we can do on our own. Same as all the other attributes of the Fruit of the Spirit - we need God’s help to do it.
My friend, Mandey (who is co-leading our Titus group this year) found a great definition for “self-control.” It says: “Biblical self-control is allowing God to be in control of your will and heart, being disciplined in obedience to God.”
Wow, that’s it, isn’t it? Self-control isn’t about me being able to control myself. It’s about allowing the Holy Spirit to control me.
It’s allowing HIS will to be my will.
Of course, the problem is these are easy words to say…but difficult concepts to live out.
I desire to have self-control when it comes to food (particularly sweets), but when I try in my own power to do it… I fail. Over and over again… I fail.
But my stubborn, perfectionistic personality thinks I should be able to do this on my own. So, instead of giving God control in this area of my life I think to myself, “Oh, this isn’t that big a deal. I can handle this. I don’t need to bug God with this little thing.”
I’ll just tell you now… I don’t handle it well by myself.
Now ,that isn’t to say I don’t have responsibility in the matter. I most certainly do! God gives us each free will… but that means I can choose whether I do what’s right in the eyes of God or not. He isn’t going to force my hand.
But if I’m living a life controlled by the Spirit, I will then have the prompting to know when something is or isn’t the right thing. And I’ll have the self-control to make the right decision.
Also, something I too often forget is that God will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I can bear. That’s why I loved this week’s memory verse for our group – it was just the reminder I needed.
”No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
1 Corinthians 10:13
So the next time I say, “Oh I just couldn’t help myself!” please smack me. (ok, maybe not smack. maybe just gently remind me?)
The truth is, maybe I couldn’t help myself, but God could help me. I can ask Him for help, ask Him for a way of escape, and He will provide it – because He is faithful.
Frankly, I think my biggest obstacle when it comes to gaining self-control is… myself.
How ironic, right?
But like all the other attributes of the Fruit of the Spirit, it takes continually (and intentionally) dying to myself and renewing my mind with the truth of His Word. The more I die to my flesh, and seek to live in the Spirit… the more God can work in me and mold me into the woman of God He desires for me to be.
A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.
Proverbs 25:28 NLT
“We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.”