Welcome to Day 19 of our 3M Fast. Today, we want to continue our Devotional on the Fruit of “SELF-CONTROL” as recorded in Galatians 5:22-23.
“But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Think about this; How often have you longed for something you needed to wait for? Or desired something unhealthy? How do you deal with those longings, desires, and urges? Do you allow them to control you or do you remain the one in control? Hey Pastor, what is “self-control?” In the Greek, the word is “enkrateia” which means, “masterful or self-controlled in appetite.” The Grandmama Cornbread meaning/version of “self-control” is “control over the self.” For the Believer, self-control is not merely about one’s temperament. It is about resisting the temptation to break God’s law and react or respond to others without demonstrating the Fruit of the Spirit in our thoughts and actions. We’ve all had to resist temptations at some point in our lives, and we’ve all given in at some point too. Paul introduces another term and concept called, “self-discipline” in his letter to the Corinthian Church, which is related and very similar to that which we see in Galatians 5:23. In 1 Corinthians 9 verses 24-27 (NIV), it says
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games go into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NIV)
It’s here that our text is speaking of exercising self-restraint in all areas of life. In this passage we find the idea of both self-control and self-discipline. Paul is saying that it’s important to keep his body under the discipline and control of his mind, not the other way around. Self-control and self-discipline is needed to win the race that will help us live a life that is holy and pleasing to God. I think of this in terms of “Restraint vs. Constraint. Restraint is the ability to exercise self-control, check an impulse, hold yourself back from doing something. Constraint, on the other hand, is a limitation or boundary you build into your life in advance. A key to overcoming sin is in how we structure our lives in a way to avoid having to make a self-control decision in the first place.” People who do the same activity at the same time each day have an easier time accomplishing their goals, not because of their will power, but because the routine makes it easier. So it seems a powerful tool to overcoming is to practice constraint – deliberately structuring our lives so we eliminate or minimize our time around those things that tempt us. Which means, thinking ahead and making concrete plans to avoid and overcome temptations. Twice in the Book of Proverbs, Solomon spoke of this. He tells us in Proverbs 22:3 and 27:12. He understood the importance of looking ahead and making plans to avoid temptations to sin that would come his way. Everyone’s life is filled with potential traps, temptations, and sins. We each probably know our personal weaknesses, and we know that we have to overcome them for the sake of health or righteousness. We want to have more self-control and we pray for God to give us more. But do we also take active steps to hide ourselves and guard our minds as well? Like drive a different way home to avoid the liquor store; have an accountability partner; change in our associates. Now let me ask you, is my first reaction to something a Fruit of the Spirit or a loss of control?