“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Prov. 25:28).- Proverbs 25:28
In our day there is much discussion regarding the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Every day we can turn on the television and see people claiming to have experienced incredible healings and other such “miracles.” Hundreds of books have been written about fantastic visions foretelling the future or granting a person a tour of heaven.
The evidence that such miraculous gifts ceased with the death of the last apostle makes such claims extremely doubtful. Additionally, this preoccupation with spiritual gifts reveals incorrect thinking regarding our spiritual growth. Since God gives spiritual gifts to all Christians (1 Cor. 12), even the most immature believer has a gift. However, since only mature believers consistently exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, it is the fruit with which we must be concerned. It is the presence of the fruit in our lives that demonstrates true maturity.
Today we will examine the fruit of self-control (Gal. 5:23). Basically, to have self-control means that we behave in a manner appropriate to the given situation. It means we defer when it is appropriate to defer. It means we speak when we need to speak. It means that we control our tempers and do not blow up every time things do not go our way. It means that we ignore the minor mistakes of others instead of trying to prove that we are always right.
Exercising self-control often means that we put other people before ourselves. It often involves putting the good of a group ahead of the good of an individual. We see this when we look at sports teams. To be sure, good teams have athletes who stand out from all of the others on the team. But if every athlete is always trying to get his time in the limelight, the entire team will suffer. Successful teams always have players that defer to one another when necessary in order to win the victory.
When we seek to practice self-control in our lives, we must take care that we do not become wimps. Jonathan Edwards offers helpful advice by saying that when it comes to matters of truth and integrity, we cannot yield to other people. If someone is teaching rank heresy, for example, exercising self-control and behaving in a manner appropriate to the situation means that we call attention to the matter and stand up for the truth.
Is the fruit of self-control manifesting itself in your life? Do you lose your temper often, or are you able to control your emotions? Take some time to look at the relationships in your life to see whether you are exercising self-control. Ask God to grant you the wisdom to understand how you might better control yourself in all situations.
Passages for Further Study
2 Tim. 1:7
2 Peter 1:5–7