(We conclude our series on “The Fruit of the Spirit” with a discussion on the word “self-control.”)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
I am not sure if this is the custom in other countries, but here in America many people make resolutions, or set goals, in an effort to change some aspect of their life that they are not happy with. Traditionally most resolutions begin on New Year’s Day. Unfortunately their good intentions often end in failure.
When areas of our lives are out of control what do we do? We often make grand statements like:
• “I’ll never do that again.”
• “I’m going to quit smoking, drinking, or gaining weight.”
• “I’m going to control my tongue.”
When we attempt to make these changes on our own, more times than not we fail. However, with a little help we can find a way of getting control of our lives again.
The Holy Spirit offers such help in the form of the fruit of self-control. This is a fruit that delivers us from despair, and it enables us to win the battle against the negative things in our lives.
Today we will examine the fruit of self-control, something that we all so desperately need in our lives. We will learn how to exchange our self-confidence for faith. We will learn how to exchange our will power for God’s power. Finally, we will learn how to exchange our weakness for God’s strength.
Exchange Your Self-Confidence for Faith
Self confidence is a great trait to have. People who lack confidence miss out on so much in their life. Many people never make it to college or fail to get a better paying job simply because they lack confidence in themselves.
There are pluses and minuses when it comes to self confidence. One plus is that self-confidence enables us to achieve some things. We can seek a higher education, go for that better paying job, and try for those things that may be considered out of our league. However, the minus is that self-confidence limits us to human potential. We have to seek these things by the sweat of our brow or through intellectual thinking. We are limited, but God is not.
Philippians 4:13 tells us, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” There are no limits when we lean and depend on God.
In the Bible, Joshua was able to lead his people to victory over Jericho with the help of God. The odds were stacked against him, but his faith told him that God would help him succeed. His faith gave him the confidence he needed. It was not self-confidence that won the battle; it was his faith that won the battle.
A young David was able to defeat Goliath because he had faith that God would give him whatever he needed to destroy the mighty giant. Seasoned soldiers lacked the self confidence to battle this great enemy, but a teenaged David, fresh from tending his father’s sheep, had the faith he needed to accept the challenge and win.
Then there were Jesus’ disciples. They were unlearned individuals – mostly fisherman – yet they received all the confidence they needed through their faith in Jesus. Their faith allowed them to turn the world upside down.
Know that defeat can be changed to victory with God’s power. All the discipline we need is available from the Lord. This kind of discipline is self-control in action. Trust God to enable you to do what you ought to do. Exchange your self-confidence for faith.
Exchange Your Will Power for God’s Power
Most of us suffer from a lack of will power in some area in our life. We try to stop overeating, over spending, over drinking, smoking, gambling, or gossiping. For a time we are able to overcome our addictions, but then we slowly slip back into our old habits. However, we don’t have to accept defeat.
Remember what Philippians 4:13 said? “I can do all things through Christ.” You can trade your “I want to” for “I can” through the power of God.
Many of us lack the will power to quit our addictions. We try to win with will power, but know that your will power is limited. Only God’s power is unlimited.
You have the ability to allow God’s unlimited power to operate in you. When you yield to the Holy Spirit you can receive the ability to harvest the fruit of self-control. With the help of God’s power you can overcome anything.
Exchange Your Weakness for God’s Strength
Philippians 4:13 tells us that Christ strengthens us. Sometimes we can give a problem everything we got and still fail. However, it is important for us to understand that our strength is limited. No wonder we fail. No wonder our good intentions are not always realized.
This is when we must let go and begin to lean on God’s unlimited strength. Christ can give us the strength we need to overcome. No resolve is beyond us. There is no victory that we can’t win.
Exchange Your Guilt for God’s Forgiveness
Guilt over past failure brings on depression. We hear the negative voices in our head reminding us again and again how we have failed in the past. It causes us to not want to try again. We begin to think like losers.
Guilt is real because all have sinned, but know that God forgives the guilty. First John 1:9 tells us, ‘If we confess or sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
We can overcome any situation when we allow God to move in our life. When we allow the Holy Spirit to have control over our life He will help us harvest the fruit of self-control, and little by little we will see our life change. We will slowly develop the will power to stop overeating, stop over spending, stop smoking, and stop gossiping. We will find that we finally have control of our life. God will make us winners if we will only let Him.
I hope you have enjoyed this series of teachings on the Fruit of the Spirit as much as I have enjoyed writing them. It is amazing how God allowed situations to come into my life, which gave me insight into the topic I was discussing for that week.
Until next time, may God bless you!