Self-ControlHave you ever noticed how much our feelings can fluctuate throughout the day? From the weather to whether or not one of our family members woke up on the wrong side of the bed, our emotions can shift depending on several parameters in our life. Self-control is the ability to intentionally be aware of our emotions yet not let them overwhelm us to the extent that we lose our Christ-given identities or conscious purpose in Him. In fact, 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
Training and discipline
When I think of the people that have the most self-control in their life, I think of Olympic athletes. Did you know that an Olympic gymnast can train up to over 30 hours per week? That is a full-time job! God acknowledges the discipline that athletes display in
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
According to Galatians 5:22-23, self-control is the last fruit of the Spirit, but not the least. Self-control involves a multi-faceted approach and comprehensive awareness of how our emotions impact our daily lives and walk in Christ. Proverbs 25:28 says, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Self-control is not a want in the life of a son or daughter of Christ, but a need. Self-control serves as a fundamental foundation that allows the other fruits of the Spirit such as love, gentleness, and goodness to come about.
Be slow to anger
Anger is an emotion that we experience in the flesh that often correlates to an experience that is evoked by disappointment, frustrations, or misunderstandings. The Bible is clear on how we should approach this emotion and how much it threatens our foundation of self-control. Proverbs 14:29 says that, “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” James 1:20 also says that, “For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” If we allow ourselves to become overwhelmed with the an emotion such as anger, we limit God’s ability to use us for His kingdom, jeopardize our understanding towards others, and abate the power of grace that lives within us. Transitioning from relying on our emotions to drive our actions to becoming fully grounded in God’s expectations for our life requires being “transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:12)
You are probably thinking, “What about temptation?” The truth is, our flesh is weak and it is very easy to give into any type of temptation. However, though the flesh may be weak, Matthew 26:41 tells us that with prayer, “the spirit indeed is willing.” Since God has already given us a spirit of self-control, when we are presented with temptation, no temptation can can overtaken us no matter how hard it tries. God who remains faithful and will not let you be tempted beyond your ability (1 Corinthians 10:13).
It is essential to note that the gift of self-control was given to us because, even though you may not see it with your eyes, we are in a spiritual warfare with the enemy. God also provided us with armor to “be strong in the Lord and His mighty power.” (Ephesians 6:10-18) When our flesh fails, the power of righteousness, the Word of God, truth, the gospel of peace, and faith, fight for us and through the nurturing and harvesting of our fruit of the Spirit, self-control.
Fear Not, for I Am with You
We don’t have to fight temptation in any form without God by ourselves. Not only do we have access to the armor of God, but Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit that is instrumental to remaining in faith during times when the waters get rocky. It gives us a steady and reliable reminder that God is always in control and in Him we can do all things.