Fruit of the Spirit: Self-control or spirit-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.”
-Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)

We have finally reached the end of our Fruit of the Spirit study, and we are concluding with the fruit of self-control. However, when I study self-control, I find that it isn’t so much “self” control as it is “Spirit” control. You see, when a woman is living a fruitful life, following the precepts that God has outlined in His word, she isn’t controlled by self any more. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The area of self-control covers a lot of ground. As women, we are emotional creatures. God created us that way, but He does not desire for us to live under the rule of our emotions! While it is okay to experience and express emotions, we should not let our emotions control us. By allowing the Spirit to work in us, and tapping into the other fruits that we have discussed (such as joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc.), we can find self-control. If we fail to manage our moods according to His ideals, our emotional instability can ruin our reputations, destroy relationships, and inhibit us from following God’s leadership. And by living a life characterized by emotional outbursts, we are unable to live in fellowship with God due to our sin of disobedience. However, when we turn our focus to the One who created us and our emotions, there is hope. Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him. (Psalm 42:11)

Self-control does not always have to be an issue of emotions. For some, self-control may have more to do with financial decisions. Or perhaps food choices and appetites. It could be about gossip, spending time in the Word, watching or listening to things that hinder our relationship with Christ, how we spend our “free” time (if there is such a thing as a mom!)… The list goes on and on. Everyone has some area of their life over which they long to have more control. The areas in which you struggle may be very different from the struggles I face day to day. That’s the beauty of the unique creations that God made in each of us! And that is the beauty of the God we serve- no matter how different we are, or how different our struggles are, He created us. He knows us intimately. He understands those weak areas and loves us through them. And He, only He, can offer us the power that we need to overcome those individual trials.

So, as we conclude our study, I issue you a challenge. Every day, make a commitment to meet with your Holy Father. Open His word, talk to Him in prayer, and hear what He has to say to you. Tap into His power, be fruitful, and pray for your sisters in Christ who are facing challenges of their own on a daily basis. Some days and some seasons may be tougher than others- believe me, I know! But leave your Bible open on the table as a reminder that He’s there. Talk to Him as you take a shower or drive down the road. Post verses around your home in obvious places. Keep praise and worship music on throughout the day. Do whatever it takes to fill your days with Him. And as you do so, you’ll find that He’s right there with you in the every day, mundane, routine “stuff” that you do as a wife and a mother. And He’s ready to equip you with everything you need to love like Jesus, to be an example for your children, to be a woman after His own heart. Become a mom who exhibits love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness. And one who isn’t self-controlled, but Spirit-controlled.

 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 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

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
-Ephesians 4:1

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
-2 Peter 1:5-7

Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.
-Proverbs 25:28

Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.
-Proverbs 16:32

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.
-2 Timothy 1:7