Wednesday, October 01, 2008

One WFW, I began a Fruit of the Spirit theme. My first post started with the verse, and each week I have been led to post one on each fruit. I have posted on love, joy , peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness.

This is the last post in the Fruit of the Spirit theme, and it seems to be on the hardest fruit (for me) to cultivate. Self-control, or in ye olde KJV, temperance.

The greek word for self-control, or temperance, is ejgkravteia, and means the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, esp. his sensual appetites, according to the lexicon on the website.
Let's also look two other definitions.

Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary defines temperance - 1: moderation in action, thought, or feeling : restraint 2 a: habitual moderation in the indulgence of the appetites or passions b: moderation in or abstinence from the use of alcoholic beverages

Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary defines self-control: restraint exercised over one's own impulses, emotions, or desires

Restraining our own actions, thoughts, feelings, and words is not something new to our generation. Struggling with self-control was prevalent back in the day the Bible was written as well. The apostle Paul struggled with sin, perhaps a sin involving a lack of self-control.

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin." ~ Romans 7:17-25

I admire Paul greatly, and to know of his struggle with sin really helps me understand that the sinful nature that is part of us is at war with the new nature Christ gives us when we are saved. I don't feel quite so alone in my struggles, and knowing that it's not unique to me helps.

Like Paul, I don't understand it. I was very reluctant to write on this fruit, and almost called the whole post off, thinking I would never get a post on it to sound quite right. I don't think I could. Still am not sure I can.

Before I could even begin, I had to seek the Lord.

"Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually." ~ 1 Chronicles 16:11

How can we bear the fruit of self-control when our sinful nature is at such war within us? First, we have to recognize lack of self control as a sin. Sin is anything that separates us from God, driving a wedge between us.

With that in mind, though, we must have hope and remember Who gave us this fruit of self-control. Christ gave us this fruit, planting it in us. As Christians, it is our fruit to bear just as bear the other fruits of the Spirit.

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." ~ Galatians 2:20

Self-control has to be cultivated, just like any other fruit; however, it may require more attention than most. It must be carefully and constantly weeded, pruned, and tended to like some difficult and picky flower.

"And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God." ~ Romans 8:11-14

In a recent poll on my blog, the question was asked, "What area do you struggle with most regarding self-control?" 14 people responded. 50% struggled with food issues, 28% with words, another 28% with temper, and 7% with other. While I feel for everyone who struggles with it, I took some measure of comfort in knowing I'm not alone when I struggle in all those areas, some more than others.

Personally speaking, self-control is a hard fruit of the Spirit to bear. Perhaps the hardest, but it's not impossible. I think it just takes a lot of faith, and a lot of humility.

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." ~ Hebrews 11:6

The verse below made me wonder, though, could self-control a matter of pride?

"Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another." ~ Isaiah 48:10-11

Stubborn Israel had been dealing with idolatry. When God freed them, He wanted them to know it was *Him* Who freed them, not another, for He is not one to share His glory. When I ran across this verse, I stopped in my tracks and realized that every form of self-control I struggle with, whether it's temper, words, finances, temptation, or food, it all boils down to "what I want", not what God's best for me is. When I have fits of struggling with self-control, I'm putting emphasis on what "I" want, what "I" have to have, what "I", "I", "I"....desire.

Our desires need to be focused on God.

"I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart." ~ Psalm 40:8

"Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually." ~ 1 Chronicles 16:11

We need to lay aside our whims and impulses and lack of self-control, and get over ourselves. It really is all about Him! In realizing this, we need to reign in our impulsive desires. How? How can we do this? Is it easy? I don't think so, but as we grow closer to Christ, we'll find that it does get easier. We'll realize that the urge to give in to our own impulses in combatting lack of self-control over areas such as food, finances, temper and words comes from the Devil or our own fleshly desires and hopefully eventually be able to laugh at the attack we find ourselves under to just give in.

Most of all, we need to purpose in our hearts that each and every one of our actions will glorify God and bring Him honor, and not discredit Him to others who are watching the example we set. For, as Paul told the Philippians, others are watching, my friend.

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you." ~ Philippians 3:12-17

Let's bring glory to God as we race toward the prize (eternal life) He has set before us. Let's leave the former struggles behind and seek to live lives that bear the fruit of self-control, so that we can bring glory to God for the grace we have attained, and set a good example for those who are watching us. Little ones at home, spouses, family, friends and strangers...let's set that good example for them to glorify God with the fruit of self-control.

S - Surrender all your desires and impulses to God each morning and pray that in all you do, you will bring glory, not dishonor, to Him through your actions of the day

E - Expect slips ups and confess them and repent asap

L - Learn from other people who bear the fruit of self-control consistently

F - Follow God's Word on how you should respond to situations

C - Cultivate the other fruits to make sure this one is getting the same nutrients

O - Omit one bad habit at a time - trying to give up too many at once is hard

N - Never give up trying

T - Trust the Holy Spirit to guide you in wisdom

R - Recognize the triggers that cause lack of self-control and steer clear of them

O - Obey the Holy Spirit's prompting, rather than your own selfish desires

L - Lead others by example of self-control

Father, I praise You as my great Gardner and ask that you cultivate this fruit in me. I know that there are times that I fail in this area, and I humbly ask that You guide me in the way I should go. Help me seek Your face continually, spend time with You daily, soaking up Your Son and Your Word, where there is so much advice on living a life that is pleasing to You, and help me show restraint and self-control as the opportunities arise. Help me remember to bring honor to You in all that I do, Lord, and be aware that others are watching the example I am setting. Let me set a good example for Your glory, Father. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Please visit Amydeanne for more Word Filled Wednesday posts! You will surely be blessed, as I am each week. Thanks, Amydeanne for hostessting this each week!


Homesteader in Training said...

That self control thing is a hard one. We live in such an all about me society. Great post my friend.

Jill said...

This was a wonderful post!

I pray all that you shared sinks deep into all of our hearts today by everyone who stops by to read it!

Self-control is a choice and God through His Son gave us the power to conquer our will, wants and everything that holds us captive.

We must choose death of self and to only bring glory to the Father! Jesus living in us ONLY lived to honor the Father - we have that same power through Him and the Holy Spirit. AMAZING GRACE!

I have been teaching about this very thing for weeks on Mondays. I hope you will join me.


Debra said...

Laurie Ann..

I love what you said about self control being a hard one...but not impossible!

Great post, sweet sister. Happy WFW.

Twinkle Mom said...

Wow..that was very touching and so convicting and true.

I know I am VERY hard on myself if I feel myself slipping and often I think I make it worse than better and in so many ways still feel like a toddler.

LauraLee Shaw said...

Well, we are kindred spirits, because this is the part of the fruit that needs help in me as well. Your acrostic perfectly sums it up. Love it.

Anonymous said...

Laurie Ann thanks for yet another wonderful acrostic to copy down and keep in mind each day :) This is an area that I am sure all of us struggle with so thank you for addressing it. Great post!

PS Thanks for providing me with that word Lauralee "acrostic", I kept calling them acronyms. I just couldn't remember the word :P)!

Melanie said...

I am so glad that you didn't call off this post... it was great! I am so thankful that God works with us in the area of self-control when we just turn it over to Him. It still isn't easy, but it is do-able. After all, God never promised to make everything rosy and easy all of the time, but He did promise to walk along with us along the way.

Happy WFW!

Deanna said...

I have allowed food to become my comfort in a very stressful time instead of turning to God. I needed this post very much. Thank you so much!

Denise said...

Awesome my friend.

Tracy said...

Laurie Ann,
I'm so grateful you went ahead with this both blessed and convicted me!'re absolutely right...we really just need to get over ourselves!

I love your acrostics! This one especially!


Esthermay Bentley-Goossen said...

Amazing Post! Thought provoking picture. Thanks. The acrostic is worthy of a spot under a magnet on our 'fridge.
Kindest Thoughts,

Dawn said...

What a great post Laurie Ann and a much need one. Me and self control on my thoughts. Oh my thoughts can get me in trouble and I know it's you know who putting that wedge between me and God. So thankful for you and your post!

Love ya my friend!!!

He And Me + 3 said...

Our VBS this summer was about the fruits of the spirit. They are so important & yet sometimes so hard to grow in our lives. Great Post!

lori said...

THAT wasn't easy....self control in pictures....AWESOME! I love it...and what a great post to go along with it!

Yeah, self control....always working on that myself...:) you are not alone on that walk:)


Denise said...


DeeDee said...

Thank you for your WFW -
Self-control ...
That was part of our Bible Study just this morning. SWEET

I am joining your list of "followers" come Join me too
I like this new feature of Blogger - lets us put faces to our readers ;)


JesusRulzMe said...

Okay sister, you're so WISE!!! How do you know all this stuff?! :-)

I love your Scripture-Picture...soooo perfect!

And hey, who doesn't need a little extra self-control? I know I sure do! :-)

Bless you sister!

Susan said...

Hey Laurie Ann,

Wow, this one was really good, and I must say CONVICTING too.

Thanks once again for always blessings us with such awesome posts.

What a gift you are!!!


Mariposa said...

It's such a beautiful theme...and how lovely!

alihsee said...

We were talking about self control at my bible study last night - a segment of the fruit that I struggle with always. Thank you for your great proverb & photo. Happy WFW!

Anonymous said...

You put a lot of thought and prayer into this WFW. Thank you for sharing it.
Kathy b

Amydeanne said...

i love your acronym for self control!

Rebecca said...

I love that one! What a great picture to fit your theme. Love what you had to share as well.