The Fruit of the Spirit! "Self-Control" (Part 10)
'The fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control.
(Galatians 5:22-23 in the Holy Bible)
This may be one of the most important columns I have ever written.
Well, glory after 10 weeks we arrive at the last fruit of the Spirit'¦self-control! For me this is one of my favorite fruits. Should not really say that for all of the fruits of the Spirit are the fruit of God in our lives. But for me this is one that really speaks to me.
As I have lived my life and gone through so many struggles and trials and difficulties 'self-control' is something that I must deal with daily. I love the challenge! Where many flee from struggle I embrace it. One of my favorite sermons that I preach is:
“When everything says 'No' here comes Jesus!'
In carrying the cross around the world in every nation and over 36,000 walking miles there has been time after time when my body said 'no'. Yet thank you Jesus He gave the gift of 'self-control' to press on beyond what seemed possible. Time and again when all the things around me said 'no' I found the Holy Spirit filling me and leading me on to do what seemed impossible. Again in the same way people have said 'No, you cannot do this.' All glory to God He has given the strength and will for me to hear all the words, reject them and then go forward believing the call and will of God.
One must impose 'will' and 'self-control' over emotion. You can read back to my first column on this subject and see when I first came to the importance of the fullness of the Holy Spirit and how I struggled to walk in the Spirit.
With my mindset and with the way God works in me I never have an excuse. Many people seek excuses and blame for failure. Over and over again most seek to shift the fault to something or someone else.
For me in life in victory and in failure 'it is me'. No doubt about it. I can never say:
“The Devil made me do it'.
“I didn't know what I was doing'.
“It just happened'.
“He, she is to blame'.
“I'm confused and just don't know what I did'.
“That just came out, I don't know where it came from'.
In strength or in failure it was me and I did it. No one and nothing else forced me to react as I did. I am responsible. When you have this viewpoint you must deal with all of life in a very clear and personal way.
I am responsible for what I eat. My weight, my physical conditioning and all I do are a true reflection of 'Me'. Like it or not we are what we do, say, think and believe. As the Holy Spirit works in me I am to live in His self—control at work in me. Jesus is the Master of self-control. Look at His life. One of the requirements of following Jesus is to 'deny self'. Self is not to be our Master but self-control is to be our humble way of living in this world. The apostle Paul in the Bible says, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, not I but Christ lives in me! Self is no longer the master of the follower of Jesus.
How do we deal with the problem?
My suggestions are:
Identify the area or areas of your life that need 'self-control'. I suggest that you get a piece of paper and write this down. Should there be many items then list them with space enough to write in below or list them one to a page so there is enough room to write. Be honest. Be truly honest with yourself. You can just stop and do this now. Look over what you have written down. You may be angry or weeping or deeply hurt or fearful as you see before your eyes your great need. Don't despair. Let's take the next step.
In all these areas of weakness or sin now bring them each before the Lord Jesus and ask Him to forgive and cleanse and empower you. Take all the time you need. Now the past is under the Blood of Jesus and He has cleansed you as you have repented and ask for His mercy and grace.
“I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me'.
Philippians 4:13 in the Holy Bible
“My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in Glory by Christ Jesus'. Philippians 4:19 in the Holy Bible
Now I want you to look at this list again as you focus on 'now' and the 'future'. Please write under each of these heading in 1,2, 3, order how you have been failing in this.
Example of lack of self-control:
Problem: What is it?
When does it happen?
How often does it happen?
What time of the day or night?
How do I begin to rationalize my actions?
Look at the pattern. There is always a repeated order of thought patterns and actions. Look at yourself and write down the steps you take to get to where you are out of self-control on the subject. You will always see a clear pattern whether it is food, drink, anger, lust, wasting time or anything else. Now you are beginning to see the small steps that you repeat to cause you the problem.
Now to break the repeated pattern of actions:
Put a small New Testament in the place of temptation. When you go there, read the Word of God. This breaks the pattern. You may also put a scripture verse at the place of temptation. You can also stop by your Christian bookstore and perhaps find a beautiful scripture or thought that is beautiful to put in that place. A good verse like the ones listed above on the car dash or refrigerator door or computer monitor could be of tremendous help. It helped and helps me.
Should aloneness be driving you to actions then change your patterns and find new friends in places where you can meet and get to know people in a good environment.
Should you be short-tempered then resolve to do something like looking at your watch and determine that you will not react to a provocation for 5 minutes no matter what. This gives you time to gain your control as you pray and consider everything.
Some of us with our inappropriate words are like an elephant in a flower garden. Crushing the people all around us, even the ones we love and care about.
Should you have a problem going into a certain place after work then take a new route in your car and avoid that place. You may need to avoid certain environments as the temptations are just too great for you at this time. Just don't go there. Find something else to do. Just stopping doing something leads to boredom and soon you will repeat yourself. So find a substitute activity that will be more fulfilling than what the other thing ever was.
Should you have a problem with say, 'following through' and not 'doing' what you resolve to do in study or projects then write down a daily list and at first keep it short and easy to accomplish. Then you can increase it. Look at it in the morning and then check it off before bedtime.
Whatever system you use, break from the pattern and start a new life.
Don't give excuses for your actions. Be responsible, admit failures and in the power of the Holy Spirit you will soon see marked improvement and in time you will be living in this glorious fruit of the Holy Spirit'¦self-control.
Some of you may be wondering why I am spending so much time talking about practical things and not just “Jesus will take that desire away'. Now Jesus can and will give you this fruit of the Spirit but you must be willing to let Him and let Him deal with your human body and your spirit.
Many of you reading this column have been to the church altar or prayer meeting or shared your problems with a prayer partner or prayed about this problem for years with no real change. Should you have no problems with self-control the praise God you don't need this column anyway. I need it and most of you do too.
So often even in church people come to the front to pray or be prayed for and they leave unchanged. Sure there is a good feeling and a change for a few hours or days but then the old pattern emerges. Now I am not talking about salvation but followers of Jesus still struggling with old repeated problems. Sometimes people need tips for living and dealing with problems. Just having someone else pray for you will not solve every problem. You must make decisions.
We all have problems in this area. I do not and will not point fingers at others in this discussion. I want to focus on me, Arthur Blessitt. It is easy for me to see that someone has a problem with lack of self-control with food whereas I have this problem in some other areas that are not so obvious. So don't judge others. Judge yourself and deal with the solutions to your problems.
Now! Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with all the fullness of the glory of God and empower you to live in victory in every area of your life.
You may want to burn or throw away that paper you have been writing your list on. I remember years ago writing a list and then after prayer and consideration and decision everyone threw their list into a bonfire. People were weeping and laughing and hugging and praising God. I will never forget that. Now that past is gone and you are forward focused! You may also keep it and write progress notes on it from time to time.
Oh, dear friends I pray this has helped you. I truly do want to help you 'live' the life you want to in Jesus. I pray for you! I would be very interested in hearing from any of you by e-mail about how this may have helped you.
Even doing these columns is a work of self-control. It requires me to do a column every week. May not seem much but it takes time and effort and hours of work. When I felt Jesus lead me to write the weekly column I also made the decision to 'Do' it. Just like everything else there is a decision to do or not to do then there must be the daily or weekly commitment to carry out the action. I love the discipline this forces on me.
You will be making giant steps forward in Jesus Name!
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt