Choose to practice self-controlLatest Issue, Where's the Faith? Thursday, November 9th, 2017
Social Chaos: Where's the Faith?
As a progressive Christian, I believe there are many names for God and many ways to a loving God; this article reflects one of those ways. Take from here what works for you. Celebrate life with joy and peace!
The definition of self-control comes from the Greek word (egkrateia), which means strength, or the ability to contain oneself. The earlier King James Version used the word “temperance,” meaning self-restraint. Today, this word usually has the narrower sense of moderation.
This Fruit of the Spirit or these attributes within us grow out of our connection with God. That can definitely be said about self-control. There is no external force that can make us practice self-control – we choose to practice self-control.
Some theologians say we could evenly divide these nine attributes (Fruit of the Spirit) of God into three distinct groups of traits. The first three, love, joy and peace show our relationship with God. The second group, patience, kindness and generosity affect our relationship with others. And the last three, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control deal with our own sense of integrity … these are more personal.
Now, when I was a young boy, I didn’t have a lot of self-control when it came to fighting with my brother David. He’s just 16 months younger than me, and during our early school years it seemed that whenever we were in the same room for very long, we’d start fighting. I think perhaps, we had a lot of anger, or grief we didn’t know what to do with right after our parent’s divorce. My poor mom! We’d start fighting and continue until we hurt each other or broke something. Thank God, we grew out of that. Today, we are very close and love and support each other and nothing could change that. Love you, David!
I don’t know about you, but I need self-control in so many areas of my life. In how I eat, exercise and control my tongue.
We each have our temptations; all of our lives! When confronted with temptation, the best thing to do is get away from it. The Bible says flee! Even if you think you have a lot of self-control, why put it to the test unnecessarily? “Run, Forrest, Run!”
We need self-control, not only for things that may be harmful to us or others, but also in too much of the good things. Proverbs 25:16 says, “Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need, lest you be filled with it and vomit.” Self-control. Self-restraint. Moderation!
Self-control can also be explained within the definition of “having strength, or the ability to contain ourselves, to be masterful, to have strength over oneself.”
The Apostle Paul says to Timothy, “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice (timidity or fear), but rather, a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.” Some versions substitute the word self-discipline with self-control and we could also use words such as “sensibility, self-restraint, wise discretion and sound judgment.” Notice here how Paul equates this attribute of self-control to power and love. And then, going back and noticing our list of the Fruit of the Spirit see how the first and the last fruit have equal importance: love and self-control. God has given you a spirit of power and of love and of self-control!
Self-control is not just self-talk; where we say to ourselves, “I’m going to try with all of my might to just say no!” It reminds me of a beautiful verse, “Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit, says God!” So, it’s not about mustering all of our own strength and willpower to have self-control. Effective self-control is not ultimately self controlling self. To truly have effective control over our lives, we need God’s power to be in control.
As we stay connected to God, the self-control that comes from the Spirit is supernatural! It’s a work of God’s grace in you. It’s a gift from God to you.
We all have areas in our lives where we need self-control. No one knows this better than you. Our job is to stay in our own business and not judge others.
I like Tim Keller’s perspective. His definition is: “Self-control is the ability the Holy Spirit gives you to choose the important thing over the urgent thing.” Ah, the “tyranny of the urgent” can often cloud the important, can’t it? God can help us and give us wisdom and discernment.
Jesus said to his disciples in John 15, “I am the true vine, and Creator God is the gardener. If you stay connected to me and I stay connected to you, then you will produce lots of fruit!”
And the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control! Bring it on!
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