Day 11

Self-Control

from the Fruit of the Spirit reading plan


Proverbs 25:28, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, 1 Corinthians 10:13, 2 Timothy 1:7

BY Debbie Eaton

The alarm goes off at 6:30am and I lay in bed thinking about the day ahead. I have the best intentions—I will eat healthy, exercise, limit my time on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and email. I will be cheerful and present for my family, friends, co-workers, and keep my tongue in check. “I am in control” is the unsaid message exchanged between my head and heart.

My feet hit the floor and, in less than an hour, I have already spent too much time scrolling through social media, resulting in a rush to get breakfast on the table. Now feeling anxious and angry, I yell at everyone in the house for being late. The personal and work emails that arrived overnight overwhelm me, and the sight of dishes piled in the sink and clothes left on the floor exasperates me. Today’s exercise, I rationalize to myself, will be walking from the car to Starbucks and back again.

My good intentions have evaporated all too quickly, and I am ready to throw in the towel and surrender the white flag before it’s even time for lunch. The control I thought was mine seems lost. I am wiped out and done in with self-defeat. And with that, I have left an open door for the enemy to wreak havoc.

A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.
– Proverbs 25:28, NLT

I’m sure I’m not the only one reading these Scriptures today whose good intentions become muddled in the presence of daily stresses, desires and demands. The determination to exhibit self-control can deteriorate quickly in the reality of the day, leading us down a path of guilt and discouragement, fear and shame. But does biblical self-control simply mean the ability to do what I’m determined to do, and avoid what I’m determined not to do? Is it just about trying harder?

Scripture teaches that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, not a fruit of our determination. As believers in Christ’s saving grace, we have the presence of the Holy Spirit in us, guarding our life which is now hidden in Christ. The Spirit is a sort of wall, protecting our mind, heart and soul. In His love and mercy, God rebuilds and redeems our broken pieces as we learn to abide in Him. We may not always exhibit self-control the way we want to or ought to, but His presence is here in us—Jesus promised us this!

The Holy Spirit in us is not subject to our desires, but rather He conforms our desires to Christ’s will. As we’ll read tomorrow in John 15, Jesus explains His relationship to His disciples as a vine into whom they are grafted. “Apart from me you can do nothing,” He says (John 15:5). When we are grafted into the Vine, we already have the power and authority to say “yes” or “no,” or just “not right now” because the God who lives in us has all power. Abiding in Christ’s power releases us from striving to muster up our own. In His presence we are free to move forward in grace and with courage, knowing that He is “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

I still wake up most days with a mental list of all the ways I’ll control my behavior, my words, my time and my disposition, but God is teaching me that true victory is not found in controlling myself—true freedom and victory are found in being led by God’s Spirit who dwells in me. Self-control comes when I relinquish ultimate control to Jesus, my Vine and my strength. When we find our identity in Him, the fruit will come in abundance.

Lord, may we experience fulfillment today, not because of what we determine to do or not do, but because of what we know you’re doing in us. Amen.

 

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Post Comments (115)

115 thoughts on "Self-Control"

  1. Megan Bret says:

    Tomorrow being Ash Wednesday and the start of lent this was a perfect message for me today. I’m going to try to be more disciplined with my biblical studies during this upcoming Lenten season and I’m also giving up caffeine. These ideas of self-control being a gift from God really inspired me today. God bless!

  2. Melanie says:

    Thanks for these words. God is speaking to me through them this morning.

  3. Wendy says:

    It’s amazing to me that biblical SELF control is about allowing the SPIRIT to have control. It truly is a vine/branch process. Nothing we have or do comes from our own humanness. I think I have always operated out of the rationalization that I need to take control and do what I “should” do, and just pray about it. Aniston like God is the afterthought to my plans. I don’t think I have to tell you that has never worked out. Another thing the Holy Spirit showed me this morning is that when my life seems out of control (read: out of MY control) and not exactly as I desire it to be, I find other ways to take control, usually with what I decide to eat and how much time I spend on social media. Those two areas wreak the most havoc when I am not thrilled with the direction life is taking at the moment, and I’m not allowing Christ to be fully in control, I don’t give Him all of me. In that way, I am like a city without that hedge of protection around it. I’m not on guard, and there is no way I can protect the whole city on my own. I have to allow the Holy Spirit to wall up His will and wisdom around me.

    1. EBarker says:

      This speaks so perfectly to what I’ve been feeling. I’ve been struggling with the same issues of defeat when things in my day get out of MY control…..but control was never mine. Like you, my outlets become social media and food escapes when I’ve lost all hope for the day. I needed this message this morning to be reminded that my source of strength is always the Lord, and when I’m feeling powerless, it’s because I haven’t fully released my day to Him.

    2. Lori D says:

      This spoke to me today. Exactly how I feel. Just hard to take as I’ve spent my life trying to get in control of it!

  4. Colette Hill says:

    I am the say way, I start my day off with a huge list of things that must be done and what “I” plan to do to get them accomplished and it never fails, they get dropped by the wayside. I too want to be lead by the spirit and not me trying to do the leading.

  5. CindyCasto says:

    That’s me I make a note of what I need to do and if I’m lucky I may get 1 done

  6. Jessica Winters says:

    I needed this. Every day I struggle with self control, and I beat myself up for it all the time. I just need to fix my eyes of Jesus and let the Holy Spirit lead me rather than me trying to lead the Holy Spirit.

  7. Nikki Falvey says:

    This is such a good lesson. I am way too prone to be hard on myself even without the extra stress that setting self-control goals for myself brings. Less of me and more of You, Father!!

  8. Jordyn says:

    I can’t express how much this was needed. Thank you Jesus. God is so good

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