Fruit of the Spirit // SELF-CONTROL

by Brent Wakefield

Why can I not stop doing this?  Why do I continually battle the same thing over and over?  When will I finally be able to stop myself in the moment and refrain from harmful actions and attitudes?  Why do I seem to fail … every … single … time?

Where is my self-control?!?!

Actually, it’s right in front of us.

God loves a good paradox. His Word says that “self-control” is a fruit of His Spirit. In other words, controlling one’s self has little to do with one’s self at all. Instead, it has to do with the Holy Spirit’s power within us to exercise “self-control.”  We cannot look outwardly for what He wills to produce inwardly. His power – affecting our lives.

Where do we look for such a powerfully different way of living?

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…” (Titus 2:11-12)

The “it” in this passage is the grace of God that has appeared. The birth, life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ laid for us a foundation of grace that cannot be adequately described. Every conversation He had, every miracle He performed. Every blind man who received sight, every lame man who walked again. All the friendships He had, all the betrayal He felt. Every sin that has ever been, and ever will be, heaped on the head of the Lamb. Forever wiped away. Cast as far as the east is from the west. Then He rose again, defeating death once and for all. To give us hope eternal and a life beyond anything we can imagine. All for free. This is the grace of God.

And this grace is not simply a historical episode. It lives. It does something. The Word says it teaches us. That word “teach” in Titus 2 means “to instruct, train, educate, in an on-going manner.”  It’s still happening today.

It’s this grace that teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions. This grace teaches us to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. This grace teaches us that, when temptation and doubts creep in, there is actually One who wants to be invited into the moment. This grace shows us that the Spirit longs to be involved in our decision making, in our weakness, and when we cannot muster the will to overcome. He longs to hear us ask for help when we cannot help how we act. And this grace is plenty big enough to hold us in the milliseconds after we have failed, too. That’s how a good, graceful teacher teaches.

Instead of constantly wondering why we lack self-control and focusing on our failures, perhaps the better posture is to simply say: Thank you, God, for the grace you have shown me in the past, and the grace you will show me in the future, all while you continually teach me self-control, even when I fail.  

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