As my travels through the Fruit of the Spirit draw near to the finish line, I find myself trekking to my final destination – the Fruit of Self-Control. I believe this Fruit is in the final position for a reason. Looking back at the previous Fruits, I see that though there may be a measure of growth without it, to truly grow and expand in each of these characteristics, requires that we use self-control.
Self-control is about choices. Throughout this quest of attaining fresh Fruit of the Spirit, we’ve seen that in order to develop and grow healthy fruit, we have to choose to do so. Regularly. Self-control enables us to walk in love, joy and peace when things are tough and all we want to do is slink off to a corner somewhere to lick our wounds. It assists us to be patient and kind when we what we we’d like to do is snap at, or even smack someone upside the head for their behavior toward us. And it is what helps us to behave in a way that shows others that goodness, faithfulness and gentleness are not extinct in our society.
Many of us, me included, tend to see self-control as something that takes away from us. But that’s not true. If we exercise self-control in our eating habits, there is no question that we are healthier, weigh less and are more physically fit. If we exercise self-control in our financial habits, we are more fiscally sound, and in reality can do more of what we really want to do (vacation, purchase our dream home, be a stay-at-home-mom, retire, etc), instead of always striving to make more so we can spend more. And if we exercise self-control in our relationships, chances are they’ll be stronger, healthier and happier.
Another benefit of self-control is that it cuts down or eliminates impulsive actions, which is a good thing. Instant gratification is almost an obsession in our society. Sure, a little can be harmless, but I think overall it can be like a drug. It satisfies us for a moment, but then that moment passes and we start looking for our next fix, and then our next. Most of us never even realize that instant gratification becomes insatiable in our lives, and it’s always just one more time. Practicing, developing or exercising self-control is the only way we overcome the vice of instant gratification.
Oftentimes a lack of self-control is really about attempting to fill a hole that is deep within us. But it never works, because we are trying to fill that hole with anything but the one thing that will work – God. We make excuses, justify and feel entitled to have whatever our weakness or desire is, and we wear blinders so we don’t see that in fact it’s actually harmful to us. Again, not everything is detrimental to us, because in moderation, most things are not really bad for us. But when we lack self-control, all around or in a specific area, we tend to not do things in moderation.
God loves us and He wants to fill the emptiness inside of us. He desires that we practice self-control because He understands how much better it makes us. Exercising self-control is about loving and respecting ourselves and those around us. It helps us to adapt good habits and forego bad habits. It helps us to live productive and fulfilling lives. This is what God wants for us, and if we allow Him to, He will help us to achieve that.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” ~ Titus 2:11:14
Dear Sister Tracy,
You are one of the few followers I've read that gets the meaning of the order in the list of the fruits of the Spirit. I did not see it at first myself, but the Holy Spirit showed me that love (1st fruit) and self-control (last fruit) are like book ends for a book shelf. They hold or bind all the other fruits together. Great Article! I look forward to reading your expose on the others. Also the late Dr. Adrian Rodgers of Love Worth Finding is right now preaching/teaching from the Book of Titus. You might be interested in listening to his sermons at www.lwf.org
Grace and peace to you beloved Sister in Christ,