Candy blogs: You’ve been asking for it! The last characteristic of the Fruit of the Spirit for your set … self-control. Beth Moore says, “Any person without self-control is either an accident waiting for a place to happen or a slave in chains.”
A reminder: this series on the Fruit of the Spirit has been my humble attempt to personally process Beth Moore’s study, Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit. The posts have been based on Beth’s study and are my attempts to get the truths I learned even deeper into my understanding. I created the postcards for a dear family member as a means of encouragement during a difficult time. There has been much reader response to this series, but ultimately, the response is to the Truth of God’s strong and holy word. It has the same effect on me.
Let’s talk about self-control. Ugh … this one is almost as hard as patience.
How does this compound word make you feel? We don’t usually think very positively about this word. But it’s on the list, people, so we have to look at it. The list started with love and ends with self-control. Beth says that “love keeps us afloat, and self-control keep us anchored. Love lends us liberality, and self-control provide the boundaries within which love can be unleashed.” Very insightful. It’s sounding more positive now.
In I Corinthians 6:12 the Apostle Paul says, “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but I will not be mastered by anything.”
We do have every freedom in Christ; we aren’t bound by the the Law anymore. But according to this verse, freedom doesn’t mean we can disregard God’s principles and do as we please. This verse says our freedom is a choice not to allow ourselves to be controlled by anything that would steer us away from Christ. Allowing anything to control us other than Christ is bondage. We are the ones who make that call. Freedom is always there if we will walk in it.
Why do we need self-control anyway? This is America! Look at Proverbs 25:28: “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a person who lacks self-control.”
What can happen to a city whose walls are broken down? There is no protection. Enemies have free reign in the city to take what they want. Anything of value is vulnerable. In Bible times God demanded walls everywhere He chose to dwell … the Tabernacle had portable walls, the Temple had several layers of walls, Jerusalem had its walls built, destroyed and re-built several times.
Today God dwells in US. What is our wall of protection? Self-control! Because self-control “is the ability to make choices which invite and enhance the authority and filling of the Holy Spirit. Self-control is the decision to remain within the boundaries of victory.”
Beth says, “Self-control is an issue of mastery, of authority, of boundaries.” Ouch … is this “an issue” with you? It certainly is with me. I balk at boundaries and authority. At a recent family reunion I had the opportunity to exercise self-control, to not allow my opinions and emotions to override better judgment and decorum. I didn’t choose well. Like Nehemiah in 2:1-20, I had to set out with a few good men, some close trusted friends, to examine my wall of protection and inspect where it was crumbling. There had to be a section in need of repair since the enemy had entered my city and taken what he wanted.
With their help I found the damaged area and did some work there. We had brutally honest conversations. It took some serious self-examination and letting go and grieving perceived loss. But the wall is going back up. I don’t want to be outside the wall of protection.
Are there other areas in my city that need to be re-built? Yes. One stone at a time. But the phrase ‘love lends us liberality, and self-control provides the boundaries within which love can be unleashed’ needs a practical spin.
If I had exercised self-control at my family reunion, the unleashing of love would have had far more impact than my stomping off to make a point about my opinions and emotions. If I had chosen to restrain and put aside my own opinions and not be mastered by them, I would have enjoyed love unleashed in worship and sharing together as families. We don’t have “freedom” to hurt others or cause undue tension or impose our opinions on others. We’re free to have those opinions; we may even be right but we aren’t free to bully or dismiss others with them. So, for the sake of love, we choose to be mastered by love and not self.
THIS is the exercising of self-control. The choosing. The Holy Spirit doesn’t send it by some magical osmosis. It is offered at every decision point. We make the call.
♪♫♪ I’m forgiven because You were forsaken …
I’m accepted, You were condemned … ♪♫♪
Yet even in our times of lack of self-control the Lord extends mercy and forgiveness because of His great love for us.
This study is changing my life. I pray God’s word is changing yours, too. I’d love to hear how.