“Industry, thrift and self-control are not sought because they create wealth, but because they create character.” ~Calvin Coolidge
“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” ~Proverbs 25:28 NIV
“But the fruit of the Spirit is … self-control …” ~Galatians 5:22-23 NIV
In our continuing series on being like a tree in 2012, we’ve been looking at the types of fruit that naturally grow in a life that’s being transformed from the inside out by the power of God.
This week’s fruit is self-control (also translated as temperance and self-restraint.)
Self-control is ruling over my natural tendencies toward evil and selfishness. It is self-restraint as to one’s desires and lusts. It involves chastity and abstinence from intoxicating drinks and improper excitement. In the war against the flesh’s sensual and animal appetites, it is mastery over one’s own behavior. The rational restraint of natural impulses and a calm approach to life.
This fruit is the opposite of poor impulse control. A life that is self-governed will avoid out-of-control behaviors like adultery, fornication, drunkenness, and rage.
Because I always tend to do the things I don’t want to do (think chocolate cake and my dieting plan), self-control means governing my life by the power of God. It is a self-disciplined life of being in the world but not of the world.
Paul taught how to do this; “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2 NIV)
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” (Titus 2:11-12 NIV)
Self-control may feel like denial and deprivation, but it’s worth the effort to get the ultimate prize. An eternal reward for a life well-lived in right relationship with God. Like Paul said, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 9:25 NIV)
If the list of fruit started with love, it’s no accident that we end with self-control. After all, in order to be joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, and gentle … we’ll need to combat our crabby, envious, argumentative, irritable, back-stabbing tendencies.
And that transformation only happens when we stay connected to a healthy root system.
What about you? In what areas do you lack self-control? What makes it harder or easier to exercise self-restraint? Why?