Self-control is one of the primary characteristics of the Christian life. The Apostle Paul talks about it as an element of the fruit of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
While a lot of people think that each of these elements are individual fruit, they are all part of the SAME fruit! A fruit tree only produces one kind of fruit. The Christian tree produces ONE fruit and it’s made up of these things. That means you can’t say you’ve got some fruit and not others. If you do well with love, joy, and peace but fail at self-control, your fruit ain’t ripe!
But self-control is one aspect of our character development that we let fall to the wayside. In my words, it’s because pizza tastes better than self-control. In generic terms, our individual indulgences are more important to us than exercising discipline. The Bible compares self-control to a city’s walls:
Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control. (Proverbs 25)
In the ancient world, the walls would prevent the enemy from coming and conquering the city. A break in the wall could mean devastation for the city. Similarly, when our self-control is not in place, we are wide open to attack from any indulgence or desire. Maybe food isn’t your weakness. Maybe it’s alcohol. Or your sexuality. Or your anger. Pick something – because I have confidence that most of humanity wrestles with self-control issues in SOME area of life.
But you can tackle your issues. John Maxwell talks about some ways to kick-start your journey towards self control.
- Start small: You don’t wake up one morning and go run a marathon. You train for it. Likewise, it’s okay to have small, measurable goals to begin your self-control journey.
- Be consistent: It’s amazing how small consistencies can produce big results. This month (February) I started a nationwide running challenge to run over 100 miles in the month. A group of us are doing it together. Running 100 miles on a Saturday isn’t very feasible for most of us. But running/walking 3.58 miles a day will get you to 100.24 miles in the month.
You CAN do it. Don’t be discouraged because of past failures. Get back on track. Hit the gym. Put the food down. Cut back on those indulgences. Discover joy in moderation.
Let your fruit ripen into something delicious.
How about you? What is it that causes your self-control to fly out the window?