Read: Galatians 5:22-23 and Proverbs 25:28
Here we are...fruit #9! You have heard that old saying, “Save the best for last,” right? Well, Paul saved self-control for last! The Greek word for self-control is egkrates. It also means “dominion, power, strength within, masterful.” Self-control is about temperament, but it is also about resisting temptation to sin. It is about pulling from the strength within to defeat sin, the strength within is the Holy Spirit for those who have trusted in Jesus Christ. It is a moment by moment dependence on the Holy Spirit to make the choices of faith in front of us. Every day we have choices to make. We are presented with choices that will bring life to ourselves and others or death to relationships and situations.
King David in the Old Testament is a study in self-control. Much like us, some days he got it right and some days he did not. Before David was king, he was a shepherd boy and nobody ever thought he would be king. Through the story of David and Goliath, David becomes a popular warrior. He ends up serving in the court of King Saul. Saul was very jealous of David and wanted him dead. David knew of Saul’s hatred for him. David had at least two opportunities to kill Saul, but he restrained. One is recorded in 1 Samuel 24:10, “This day you have seen with your own eyes how the LORD delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lift my hand against my master, because he is the LORD’S anointed.’” In this moment, David exercised amazing self-control.
In the famous story of David and Bathsheba, David was supposed to be out fighting with his men. Instead, he chose to stay home. He then found himself in one of those wrong time, wrong place moments. 2 Samuel 11:2-4 records, “One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” Then David sent messengers to get her.” This is the beginning of a story that ends badly. David gets Bathsheba pregnant and then has her husband killed to cover his tracks. There is clearly a lack of surrender to God’s will and ways in David’s life when all this is going on.
Remember, the fruits of the Spirit are about allowing the Holy Spirit to work through us. We surrender daily to the Holy Spirit’s working in our lives. Self-control is not about just saying no. It is about saying no by faith in the power of Jesus Christ who resides in you. Theologian Herbert Lockyer said, “Victory becomes ours not by self-controlling self, but as we allow self to be controlled by the Spirit. It is all about the Holy Spirit.”
I have failed at having self-control so many times. The times that I fail are definitely the times that I am trying to do it in my own power and refusing to allow the Holy Spirit to do it through me. A few years ago I was really mad at a friend. I should have exercised self-control, especially over my tongue, but instead, I decided to let her know exactly what was on my mind. My failure resulted in major hurt feelings that took years to heal. I would like to say it was a miscommunication, but it wasn’t. It was me not allowing the Holy Spirit to work in and through me to practice self-control.
One of the main reasons that God wants us to demonstrate self-control is because He wants other people to see Jesus in us. He wants others to see that He can truly make a difference in their life.
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