God's Words: Self-Control
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Have you ever met a really physically strong person? Well, I have a son and a son-in-law who are both very, very strong. They lift weights and work out a lot to strengthen their body. So, when I have some really heavy things to move, you can just imagine who I call to help me. The word “self-control” comes from a word that means “strength” or “to be strong”. However, it is not a physical strength that is referred to here, but a spiritual strength. When someone is exercising “self-control” they are allowing their life to be controlled by the Spirit of God. There will always be things that happen in our lives that will make us angry, this will cause us to react in a way that is not pleasing to God. This is the attribute of “self-control” really helps us. It keeps us from saying something or doing something that we might regret.
Sometimes I feel a little helpless, so what can help me to have this self-control?
Have you ever seen a really good athlete? What helps them to perform at a high level from game to game is that they are constantly training, always keeping their body in shape, and always practicing their sport to keep developing their skills. They watch what they eat and how late they stay up at night. To be a good athlete takes a lot of hard work and self-discipline. It requires staying really focused on what they are doing. Developing self-control is no different. It comes from developing self-discipline in our lives. I have a grandson who is a great athlete. He practices for nearly 4 hours every day after school to develop his skills. He is very good. In the same way, self-control is something that we have to work at every day. We guard our words. We discipline ourselves to make the most of our time and our opportunities. We do not overreact to things. We read our Bibles and meet with other Christians regularly.
So what does all of that do for me?
It’s simple. It builds spiritual strength into our lives. Proverbs 25:28 says this about a man without “self-control”,
"A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls."
What a great picture! It is a picture of a city that has had all of its walls broken down. That is what a person without “self-control” is like. They have no defense against the difficult moments which will happen in their life. They will find themselves just reacting to things and then trying to just pick up the pieces of their bad decisions. Over the years I have had to do a lot of marriage counseling, and one of the things that has become obvious to me is that the marriages that ultimately fail generally do so because either one or both of the marriage partners failed to exercise self-control in their life. They just yelled at their partner or their children. They were willing to hurt people. They would become angry and say very hurtful things. They made quick and bad decisions. Why? It is because they simply lacked “self-control”.
Can you give me an example of how this can work out in a practical way in my life?
One of the greatest areas that needs to be worked on is that of guarding what we say. Our tongue is always the first place that we fail because it is so easy to say something when we are frustrated or have been hurt. We just react, and generally without thinking. It is almost our way of getting back at someone. James 3:5-6 speaks to this so clearly when it says,
So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.
So, guarding what we say is a great way to develop the quality of “self-control” in our lives. We have to constantly keep reminding ourselves that as we exercise “self-control” in one area of our life, that it will strengthen other areas as well. My wife has always had great “self-control”. I cannot remember the last time that I saw her over-react to something. So, over the many years of our marriage, her strength has become my strength. How good is that – to know that as we are strong in the Lord that God will use that strength to help others in their areas of weakness as well.
Pray this week:
Father, will you please help me to guard my words and the attitudes that cause those words to come out of my mouth? Please help me to reflect Christ in everything that I say.
Would someone think that you were a Christian by the way that you talk?