We come to this final segment of the fruit of the Holy Spirit – self-control – one fruit – nine segments, like an orange.
O, how many people would like to be able to exercise self-control! Our loving gracious concerned caring God desires to grow this quality within the lives of disciples of Jesus Christ.
Read them again - there is almost a sense of blessing in reading them - Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-control.
Now there is no law against any of these nine qualities. There is no law which says - you must not be too loving - you must not be too joyful - you must not have too much peace. These are not natural qualities - they are supernatural - miraculous - as God the Holy Spirit grows these within us.
We cultivate the soil - we prepare the ground - we have to get rid of the rubbish and rubble and weeds - but Jesus plants the seed. Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit into us, and these qualities spring up - gradually - or quickly, at times. We can do much to encourage the growth, and people around us will see the plants visibly appearing. It is amazing what people see. It is amazing what people look for, even though they might not acknowledge it. They might just pick some fruit from our lives and not even say “Thank you”.
Self-control - one segment of the fruit of the Spirit of God - one fruit with nine flavours - and we see this growing perfectly in the life of Jesus. EGKRATEIA is the Greek word used – coming from KRATEO – strength or restraint.
Self-control is more simple than some of the others to describe. It is being so mastered by risen and living Jesus - that we are able to control ourselves - our actions and reactions - our behaviour - in various areas.
"No thank you - I am not drinking that - I am not eating more - I won't join you there. I'm not watching that. I'm not letting that into my life - into my mind - to influence my thinking." It is not all negative. It is not always saying "No thank you".
It can be - "I will be there. You can rely on me. I'll make time for that."
We are able to restrain ourselves and control our words and language - our thoughts and actions - and channel them into the service of Jesus Christ.
As we grow a more disciplined life, the life of the disciple of Jesus Christ becomes more manifest - more visible - as people see someone who is following Jesus - putting Jesus Christ first - and aiming to please the Father - and being directed and guided by the Word of God. The Holy Spirit grows all this in us, and it is described as self control.
When a disciple of Jesus receive a gracious and generous supply of the Holy Spirit - that person becomes self-controlled - not in a negative way - but in a highly positive way - although it may appear negative and restricting to others. We have to recognise that.
It will be a life that will challenge the self-indulgence of others, just as the life of Jesus challenged those who felt self-satisfied, and challenges tend to frighten insecure people.
Many philosophies begin with self-control. If only I can control myself in these various areas then I will be all right - and people will think highly of me - and SELF becomes the centre. It is interesting that here we have it last on the list. If we are growing the eight which go before it, then we can hardly avoid producing SELF CONTROL. As we allow more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, the faithfulness of God, the gentleness of God to grow - self-control will appear.
"Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness and all these other things shall be added unto you." That is very comprehensive - all these things shall be given to you as well.
As we aim to follow and serve Jesus Christ the King, and obey Jesus Christ our Lord, self-control will be added to our tree. It will appear on our branches.
How many people wake up some mornings, wishing they had been able to exercise greater self control the previous night? Tom Smail used to say, “You get the sham pain at night and real pain in the morning.”
It is as we surrender more and more to Jesus - it is as we submit more and more to the Holy Spirit and the Word of God - that He places His reins upon us - sometimes guiding us in this direction - sometimes pulling us over to some other direction - but leading us and pacing us - until certain decisions no longer have to be made. We just appear in such and such a place. We appear at the time of Worship. This is no longer something over which we have to make a decision.
The Holy Spirit within us encourages us to exercise self-control in a way that will please the Father, and this is one of the most important areas or goals or themes for our lives - pleasing the Father. Jesus was always pointing to the Father. As we seek to please the Father, we will be serving Jesus.
A lack of self control will result in disintegration in all kinds of areas - not only in the life of an individual - but in society - in the community - and it will ripple out into the nation. Are we not witnessing something of that just now? It is one of the signs too of the end of this age - rebellion - people just doing their own thing - and not wanting to do what God has said.
Some are surprised when they learn that God wants us to control ourselves. They think they can wander around from here to here - whenever they want to - and when someone comes along and puts reins on them, they resist.
We cannot exercise self control without the Holy Spirit. We have to co-operate with GOD.
In 1 Corinthians 9: verses 24 to 27 Paul turns to the field of athletics to teach on discipline or self control. I am running a race - with an aim - for a prize. I have a goal - and I do not want to be disqualified. Now, all you have to do to be disqualified is to allow your foot to touch the line. You just go out of line - or over the score - by the tiniest margin - and you are out of the running. Paul saw that if he did not control his body, there was the possibility of disqualification.
We know how the athlete has to be strict. Self-control in the physical realm is of the utmost importance if you wish to achieve anything. Every area of life is monitored - what you eat - your sleep - the right psychological point of view - friends, who will appreciate what your goal is - and your friends will not do anything to distract you nor prevent you from achieving what you have set out to achieve.
All this applies to us, from The Word of God, in the spiritual realm.
Our success as disciples of Jesus will depend upon our motivation - motivated and inspired by the Holy Spirit. We are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices.
I don't want to be disqualified. Having run so far I don't want my foot to touch the line now and have someone blow the whistle. God not only gives us the power to do what we should – He also gives us the power not to do what is wrong.
It is as if God says - I will give you a goal - something to aim for - go for it - train for it - study for it - pray for it - but exercise self-control. Do not throw it all away. You can lose in 5 minutes what may take 5 years to recover. You can lose in minutes the testimony of 20 years.
Look at one very specific area. Turn to James Chapter 3 - the tongue - quite small - tiny - almost insignificant - until you realise what it is capable of. It is like the bit in the horse's mouth.
Self-control may begin with taming the tongue. The tongue can corrupt the whole person, and corruption cannot be reversed. It can be slowed down - cut out - but never reversed. Consider a peach. You can put it in the refrigerator to slow down any corruption or rottenness, but you cannot reverse the process to regain a perfect peach.
Verse 9 - The tongue is a powerful member of the body, and this is one area where it is wise to exercise self-control, and it can be an important indicator as to how we are doing in the area of self-control. James 3 verse 2 speaks of the perfect man. It means complete.
Let's close this series on the fruit of the Spirit by looking at Jesus in John 12 verse 49. The tongue is under perfect control, and we read - "what to say and how to say it". Jesus not only knew what to say but how to say it. Now, that is self-control perfection.
All His Life Jesus showed and displayed these qualities - this fruit - and He says - "Follow ME" - Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithful, gentleness, self-control. If you were to paint a portrait of a disciple of Jesus Christ, these are the colours.
I have never met any disciple of Jesus Christ who has obeyed, and who has regretted it.
“Gracious Father, help me to a disciplined self controlled person in thought, word and deed. I willingly come under Your control knowing that when I am under Your control my life will be controlled in every area.” Amen.
'Word from Scotland' Copyright 2017 © Sandy Shaw. 'Word from Scotland' articles may be reproduced in whole under the following provisions: 1) A proper credit must be given to the author at the end of each story, along with their complete bio and a link to https://www.liveasif.org/ 2) 'Word from Scotland' content may not be arranged or "mirrored" as a competitive online service.