I can understand this happening in the world, but believers in Jesus Christ, citizens of the Kingdom of God, should be a model of self control and all the Fruits of the Spirit. They have God's Word and the Holy Spirit to guide them! We are called to be salt and light to the world. But if we are immature believers and look like the world, our light is dim and our salt has lost its savor. What good are we? “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. Matthew 5:13-15
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Galatians 5:22-25
Of all the fruit listed, self control is the rarest--but most important--of them all. It is the key to all the others! Once you mature in self control, all the others fruits of the Spirit will manifest in your life. With God's Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you can cultivate mature fruit in your life. Self control is about being able to control and properly respond to your emotions and thoughts. Emotions are temporary. They change direction as often as the wind. You are not your emotions. You are your mind, body, spirit AND emotions. But you are meant to control them, not the other way around. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
1 Corinthians 10:13
Remember these are "fruits" of the Spirit, not the "gifts" of the Spirit. One is given and one must be cultivated. Many years ago, our property was adjacent to an apple orchard. Workers consistently mowed, pruned, fertilized and sprayed for pests for many, many months. Then when the fruit was ripe, they harvested the delicious apples to sell. When the harvest was finished, we would go into the orchard and pick up the apples left on the ground (the owner told us we were welcome to the leftovers!). Then I would take those apples and make applesauce and apple butter...what a delicious blessing from their overflow! But one year no workers came. No one cultivated the fruit. No one mowed or pruned or fertilized. No one harvested the fruit. The orchard was abandoned. At first the apples were still good, but over time the orchard became overgrown, unkempt and the fruit became small, diseased and damaged by pests.
That is what happens in our lives when we don't feed our spirit with God's Word and listen to the Holy Spirit. Most of the sin and chaos in our lives began with a lack of self control. I'm sorry, but you can't have someone lay hands on you and pray some self control on you. It is cultivated by listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and God's Word. Be intentional and seek self control in your life. Once you have self control, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, love and faithfulness will grow also!
Here is just a few practical suggestions that have worked for me to cultivate self control:
- Never react--pause, breath, think, and then respond.
- Grow a thicker skin and don't be easily offended
- When someone angers or upsets you, while you are breathing and pausing, try to think of what they were thinking or why they did what they did. Be empathetic.
- Don't let a day go by without forgiving because unforgiveness roots as bitterness.
- Let go of the need to be right.
- Let go of the need to have the last word.
- Determine ahead of time that you will never see yourself as a victim. Bad things may happen but you are not a victim. You are an overcomer!
- Think 'cause and effect'. If I do this--if I say this--what will happen? What will the fallout be? Is the cost too great? Then STOP yourself before it is too late.
- And last, my favorite self-talk sentence: "It's not that serious!" Sometimes we think something is so serious and catastrophic, when by next week you won't even remember what it was. Unless it is truly a life or death situation, it's not that serious!
All NIV scriptures:
Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control. Proverbs 25:28
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city. Proverbs 16:32
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19
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
Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.
Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.
All scriptures NLT unless noted.
Be a Kingdom light shining in the darkness,
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