Monday, May 5, 2014

The Fruit of Self-Control

   Most of us have at some point in our lives have gone on a diet. We have set a goal to lose a certain amount of weight, and we have set the course to follow it. Some of us succeed and some of us fall flat on top of the scale in our bathrooms, beating the ceramic tiles. I am the latter of these two. I am the one who sets a goal
for myself, sets the course and falls flat on my face, beating myself up for not accomplishing or finishing what I set out to do. This morning, I found myself, once again, beating myself up over my lack of willpower.
You see, the Lord has given me two specific things that He wants me to let go of. Both of them are causing me to stumble in my walk and both are causing me to choose disobedience rather than obedience. As I laid my heart before Him this morning, I cried to Him and told Him that I lack willpower. I have none, never have. Goals and I have never gotten along. Goals to me are more like fantasies than a reality I strive for. But, my God, being the faithful, patient and graceful God that He is reminded me that willpower is another term for self-control; and self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. So I set out this morning to plant the seeds of this fruit in my life. I went to His word and sought His mind and His wisdom so that this fruit can grow and bear within me.
“…gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:23
Self-control is translated from the original word for temperance. Temperance is defined as a virtue; a moral quality that we possess. This quality describes someone who has learned to master his or her own desires, passions and appetites. Self-control is someone who is able to master their own desires, wants, and needs. It is someone who has the strength to say no to their own desires and to stay on the course that has been set. Self control is the ability to strive for something greater without giving up or giving in. No matter the goal we are striving towards, self-control is essential for success.
Paul was one who practiced self-control. In 1 Corinthians 9:25 he compares his life and our lives to a race, a competition which we are all striving to win. These things in my life that the Lord has clearly told me to lay down and let go of cannot be accomplished without self-control. These areas of my life are the race that He currently has me running. My desires to keep on doing them, or to justify my behaviors, only lead me to walk in disobedience, and not run the race. Without self-control, I cannot be obedient. Those things that we are striving to achieve in our walks, for instance, holiness, or letting go of certain areas of our lives, can only be accomplished through the fruit of self-control. These areas of our lives are goals. God has set these goals before us to give us something to strive for, to give us something to work towards. But, without the fruit of self-control in our lives, we will be unable to reach that finish line.
Peter tells us that to our knowledge we are to add self-control, and to our self-control we are to add perseverance. (2 Peter 1:6) To be able to walk in self-control we require knowledge. If we do not know what we are to have self-control over, then how are we to exercise it? If we do not know how we are to exercise then how will we be able to complete it? Much like when you start a diet, you know what you can and cannot eat; you know when you are to exercise, and when you are to do specific things to help make you successful. Without this knowledge, you have no goal to strive towards and your diet is more like a yo-yo than a straight path. That is where self-control comes in.
“Self-control fortifies the inner man. It builds a wall of defense around him against destructive forces.” (Encyclopedia of the Bible, Self-control is the weapon of knowledge that God has given us to walk in obedience to Him. Knowing what He has asked us to do; He gives us the weapons we need to accomplish the tasks He has set before us. He shows us how to live our lives for Him. He has shown you what He is asking of you, and He has fortified your inner man through His word to accomplish it. He has built up a wall of defense around you so that the enemy cannot break through and destroy you or deter you from the goal that He has given you. The only one who can cause the fortification of the Lord to crumble is our own selves.
“Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.” Proverbs 25:28
He has shown me exactly what I am to do to win this race that He has set before me. He has shown me what I need to let go of, how I need to let them go and how I need to run. He has fortified me in His word; given me the weapons I will need to face this battle ahead. He has armed me with knowledge, now He is asking me to walk in self-control and be obedient to His calling. Self-control requires my surrender. It requires me; it requires all of us, to lay down our wants, desires, all our needs before our Holy God. We are unable to produce the fruit of self-control in our lives without surrender to His will. He has given us all the tools we need to exercise this fruit in our lives. The seed is planted in us, the seed of self-control is waiting to bear fruit through us, but until we follow in obedience to what He is asking of us, this seed will lay dormant and will not come to fruition. Obedience is the water that the seed of self-control needs to grow.
Whatever area of your life the Lord has been speaking to you about, whatever goal He has placed in front of you, without self-control you will not reach your destination. You may be struggling on your diet, you may be struggling with a sin in your life, you may have areas of your life the Lord has asked you to let go of; whatever it is that the Lord has given you to strive towards- you have the knowledge you need and the tool of self-control to cross the finish line. Don’t give up and don’t give in, that is the key to self-control. Take the knowledge that He has given you, and arm yourselves with the weapon of self-control; knowing that He is at the finish line, waiting for us to cross it.

                Father, You know me. You know all my faults and failures, yet You continue to love me and direct me on the path You have laid for me. Father, I pray for all those who read these words today that they would hear Your voice, that they would hear Your words and not mine. Father, I pray for the fruit of self-control in my life. Pour out Your Holy Spirit in me to accomplish the work that You have prepared for me. Father, without You I am unable to do anything- but Father with You, all things are possible for me. May Your word, may Your glory be seen. May You use these words to fortify and strengthen those who need it most. In Jesus Name, amen and amen.