FAITH & REFLECTION — In Galatians 5:22, 23, we find nine godly virtues listed. They are called “the fruit of the Spirit.” Collectively, they provide actual proof and visible evidence of the presence of God in a person’s life.
The last of the nine virtues listed is self-control. The fact that self-control is mentioned last, in no way suggests that it is less significant. In fact, this virtue may be the cord that holds the eight together, for it takes self-control to consistently put into practice the other virtues listed.
President Lyndon Johnson’s wife, recognizing the importance of self-control, bluntly told her overweight husband, “You can’t run the country, if you can’t run yourself.” The president, respecting her sage advice, subsequently lost 23 pounds.
Self-control is essential with respect to dealing with temptation. Joseph exhibited this powerfully in Genesis 39:12 by literally running away from the advancements of an adulterous woman.
Self-control has significant physiological implications. Paul wrote, “I discipline my body and bring it under strict control … .” (1 Corinthians 9:27). And though I feel a little mischievous adding this one, Proverbs 25:16, addressing the matter of gluttony states, “Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need, lest you be overfilled with it and get sick.”
It is self-control that keeps us emotionally balanced. Without it, our lives will be a roller coaster experience ranging from towering rages of anger to headlong plunges into depression, with numerous, variant and disruptive points in between.
Jesus taught quite clearly that we must maintain a mastery over our own human will before we can follow Him. He said, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).
Self-control is indicative of spiritual maturity and should not be confused with human willpower or the power of positive thinking. It is much more than that. It is the result of having a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. In this relationship, God’s power enables us to govern our lives in a balanced, godly fashion.
With respect to parenting, the discipline that we employ with our children is quite simply for the purpose of guiding and helping them so that they will ultimately learn self-control and self discipline in their own lives.
The word self-control comes from two Greek words which could be literally translated “in strength” or “in power.” This means that, with God’s help, we are able to practically and perennially manage our decisions, emotions and lives. It is a powerful word, and when practiced has positive, pleasant, productive and prevailing results.
“A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls” (Proverbs 25:28).