Need More Self-Control?
By Dot Bowen
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. Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
I will never forget when my sweet granddaughter, Kayla, was about 4 years old and found herself in time out because of disobedience. Tears streamed down her face, and my heart broke as I watched her cry. I asked, Sweetie, what is the problem? With her beautiful, tear-filled eyes she looked at me and replied, Mimi, I just need more self-control! In contrast, it is not unusual for my precious 2 year-old grandson, Crosby, to be in trouble. Oftentimes when we are eating out as a family, Crosby will do something that he knows he shouldn’t, and when he sees his dad walking towards him, he starts crying. He knows he’s headed to the bathroom for “the talk!” As Scott lifts him out of his highchair, it is common for Crosby to scream, I got self-control! I got self-control!
I see myself in my grandchildren because I certainly need more self-control. Kayla and Crosby realized they needed more self-control because they were in trouble. Why is it we have to reap the consequences of our mistakes before we are willing to admit we need more self-control? There are people in my life that appear to have so much self-control that I find myself thinking, Who are these people? How are they so disciplined when it comes to certain things (like eating sugar!)?
In reality, I truly believe we all can use more self-control. The only person I know who has perfect self-control is Jesus. I often wonder why Jesus didn’t strike the Roman soldiers with some disease when they were flogging him? He had the power to do so! How did Jesus keep His mouth shut when being accused wrongfully? Why didn’t Jesus take Himself off the cross at the moment they were mocking Him? He had the power to do so! What if Jesus had struck back at the Roman soldiers and stopped the crucifixion? Where would we be today?
Jesus exercised self-control because He could see the consequences of not exercising self-control. If I could see the consequences that might result from my lack of self-control before I did something, maybe I wouldn’t be so quick to do it. Have you ever said something unkind to someone and wished you had kept your mouth shut? What if you could have seen the hurt and broken relationship before you spoke? Would you be so quick to speak? Do you continue to have a certain habit and wish you had more self-control? What if you could see the damaging impact that habit would have on your body ahead of time? Would you exercise self-control? Clearly no one wants to experience the consequences of a lack of self-control. So how can we have more self-control? I’m going to tell you the truth: you have self-control!
The God who created tells us self-control is a fruit from the Spirit within us. I encourage you to read the additional verses in the “Further Reading” section at the end of this devotion that focus on self-control. If you are a follower of Christ, you have self-control! Like a person who has been given a million dollars but never writes a check is the Christian who lacks self-control. Jesus knew there was no controlling the flesh, and given the opportunity, we would choose to do things we would later regret. Trust me, I know He was so right! When I look over my life, some of my greatest regrets come from not exercising self-control. And most of the time, not until I reaped the negative consequences did I even give self-control a second thought. I didn’t know God had provided me all I needed to choose self-control.
In Galatians 5:19-20, Paul lists everything the flesh produces compared with all the things the Spirit produces. Paul writes, “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” Paul is telling us we have the Spirit within us, AND we have the power to choose self-control. As you look at the very thing you keep doing but don’t want to do, pray and draw from the Spirit within you. The fruit of self-control comes from the spirit of Christ IN you, not FROM you. It is up to us to choose to put it to use! God has provided all we need to stop the consequences of lack of self-control; therefore, we are without excuse when we don’t choose self-control.
Further Reading Galatians 5:15-26; Galatians 6:7-10