But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. – Galatians 5: 22-23
I recently learned a children’s song about the fruit of the Spirit and honestly, I can’t stop singing it! On Sunday I taught the song to my Sunday School students, hoping to start a discussion about what each fruit would look like in their own lives. Most of them were able to adequately define each fruit and describe how that fruit was evident in their life, but they all seemed to be stumped when it came to self-control.
I’m sure that everyone reading this post has at one point gotten angry or said something out of anger, only to regret it later. We have all been in situations that we could have easily avoided if we just had self-control. On Sunday, I taught my students how love, joy, peace, long-suffering (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control must all be evident in our lives. We can’t just pick and choose what we want from the list and make excuses for the rest. We must be faithful in our acts and recognize that all 9 fruit stand together in our walk with God. That includes self-control! Similar to my Sunday School students, I think we as adults have a difficult time accurately defining self-control and proving it to be evident in our own lives.
I recently read that the term “self-control” implies a battle between a divided self. The battle between the flesh and the Spirit is unfortunately something we will face until the day we die. Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:17,
“For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”
In fact, Jesus Christ reminds us in Luke 9:23 that we should “deny” ourselves and “take up our cross daily.” The key word in this verse is daily. Christ is aware of the struggle that we will face, and reminds us to daily pick up our cross and turn to Him.
To have self-control means to have “inner strength” or to be “disciplined”. In a sense, self-control frees us, and keeps us from having bad habits. This inner strength is difficult to find on our own, and let’s be real, when we are faced with temptations, “just saying no” is not as easy as it seems to be. Instead of relying on our own strength, we need to rely on the power of Jesus Christ, which works in us. It is through Him that we can gain control in the battle between the Spirit and the flesh.
“…but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” – Romans 8:13
Friends, we must rely on Jesus Christ to give us the strength that we need to say no to our sinful desires. It is not easy when we live in a world full of temptations, but His Word reminds us that we can labor by His power which lives within us (Colossians 1:29). The fruit of the Spirit is self-control! Self-control frees us from sin and helps us as we continue in our walk with our Savior.