The Strength of Self-Control

Fruit of the Spirit Series

It can be difficult to appreciate nuances of difference when it comes to the little things that rub against us in everyday life; especially in light of those seemingly small details of how you might normally do something and that person next to you does it a completely different way … a way that you don’t understand or gets you frustrated. Most likely since it’s not ‘your way’, it can feel like it’s simply the ‘wrong way!’ Examples could include, but definitely not limited to…

  • How the dishes are supposed to be put in the dishwasher
  • The way someone drives (it can even be the person you love!)
  • Your manners… or the lack thereof at the dinner table
  • Tardiness and the ritual that it takes to get ready

What I’m trying to say is that everyone has a ‘pet peeve’ or two – something that particularly annoys them in the way someone does something. I admit I seem to get bothered as well. When it comes to driving, I do not understand why a vehicle would drive in the fast lane if they are under the speed limit – I wish there could be a ticket for this! It also irks me when the person in front of me doesn’t use their turn signal… how am I supposed to know that they’re turning? Well, now my brakes definitely know! And, of course, there are the pet peeves you didn’t know you had until you lived with someone… and you find out how different you are!  

I am positive that you have pet peeves of your own and feel free to share if you like (as long as it is in the context of love 😊). These common, and somewhat meager, annoyances had me think not only about which ones we have but also how we handle them when they do. Yet that is just the tip of the iceberg – What about the bigger issues that we face that cause us to explode? How about the way someone treats you that leads you to react in a way that is not what the Lord would want for you?

Introducing the fruit of the Spirit known as self-control. Its definition is what its name means, the control of oneself. The Bible lists this last of nine fruits characterizing the evidence of one who follows Christ (Galatians 5:22-23). Just because it’s last, does not mean it is least in any way – self-control works in conjunction with the other fruits of the Spirit to hold back our fleshly, natural desires and to promote that specific fruit of the Spirit. For example, to exhibit the fruit of patience, you will have to show restraint (self-control) to being irritable and impatient. To walk in the fruit of joy, you will have to exercise self-discipline to not listen to discouraging and depressing thoughts from your mind. The list is numerous in how self-control holds back the flesh and promotes the fruit of the Spirit.

Where do we see examples of self-control in Scripture? In lots of places! Let’s briefly look at a few:

> “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self- control.” – Proverbs 25:28

Wow. A person with self-control has a protective barrier over itself, specifically keeping their emotions and their will in check. The Bible likens the lack of self-control to that of a defenseless city… how easy it is for an enemy (or the enemy!) to rile up our emotions, act under compulsion, and spew ungodliness when we do not have our protective wall of self-control!

> “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” – James 1:19

While the word ‘self-control’ is not directly mentioned, its use of it surely is! We see this in the world slow – that we should exercise the fruit of self-control when we speak (what we should and shouldn’t say) and in how we feel (to not get angry, but also, offended or defensive too easily). Instead, we are to be quick to listen. Believe me, this is a hard one for me. I am constantly in a place of leaning onto the Lord so I do not do the opposite – slow to listen and quick to speak!

> “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.[1]” – 2 Timothy 1:7

As a child of God, you are to show love (the ultimate expression of God’s care for us) through power (the movement of God through us) … with self-control? How does that work?

Fear, confusion, and anxiety can come at the most opportune time, especially if we are outside our comfort zones trying to do something for the Lord. The fruit of the Spirit of self-control guards our minds and hearts from giving into the feelings of fear; instead, it allows the peace to be present so that the love and power of God are made aware to those around us.

> Here’s a fun one: “If you find honey, eat just enough— too much of it, and you will vomit.” – Proverbs 25:16

While you might be thinking ‘duh!’, but I believe this is a bigger problem than we realize. While we do need self-control over evil, we also need to exercise self-control when it comes to too much of a good thing. We live in a society where it’s easy to give in to overeating, over-drinking, overspending and overindulging in entertainment. Whether this is an addiction or a pattern we give into (especially if it is tied to our emotions), it is necessary to show self-restraint so we are not relying on the things mentioned above for comfort or a sense of control.

You might be thinking to yourself, “easier said than done!” I realize how real that statement is; it can be quite frustrating to constantly give in to sinful or sudden emotions that it can make you simply give up! Nonetheless, you have the Holy Spirit within you and the fruit of self-control to protect, guide, and help you.

That is why for this week, spend time with the Lord asking Him what area(s) you would like to see more self-control in your life. Reread the verses above and choose which one you can put to memory so it’s at the forefront of your mind. When the temptation comes to be ‘out of control’, you can quickly remember this verse as that protective wall of self-control. My hope for you is that by intentionally practicing self-control, you will see an increase in the other fruits of the Spirit in your life.

Have a blessed week!

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[1] Some versions vary: The NIV uses the word ‘self-discipline’ & the NKJV uses the word ‘sound mind.’

6 Comments

  1. Oh boy Nathan,
    This is one I really have an on-going struggle with.
    All I have to do anymore is get behind the wheel
    and I lose control….people not signaling, people cutting me off when I am already driving over the speed limit. Whew…I really needed this blog.
    Thank you for sharing Love and blessings on you and Valerie. ….P.S. Is that dog real? I want what he has.

    1. Author

      It’s easy to lose control whether behind the wheel or in the midst of a heated conversation… the fruit of self-control helps bring our focus back to the one who is in control, Jesus.

      The dog is real, but I don’t know whose it is. I want what he has too! 🙂

  2. I always thought that self-control was about overindulging in food, material possessions, drink, pleasures & so on. I thought I had a good sense of self-control until you mentioned fear. This is where I let the enemy grab a hold of me so that I lose control & I become anxious & worried. This is an area the Lord has been working on me all summer so I am excited to read this on your blog. I will be seeking the Lord more in the area of self-control in regard to fear. Thanks Nathan!

  3. Author

    I think it can be easier to look at the physical areas you mentioned when it comes to self-control and forget about the internal conflicts we have, and those can be tough! I’m glad the blog spoke to you as it is something the Lord has been working through you this summer! May the Holy Spirit give you exactly what you need to overcome.

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