By Auntie Em, Contributing Writer
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” ~ Galatians 5:22 NIV
As Christians, all of us have the Holy Spirit of Christ living in us and His power available to us. If we are fully surrendered to Him, there should be evidence of it, and one of the most obvious signs is the presence of the fruit of the Spirit. Last month, we talked about the fruit of GENTLENESS. This month we’re wrapping up the series and looking at SELF-CONTROL.
God’s sense of humor is really evident here because Auntie Em has been wrestling with herself over this blog post! School has started back, and it seems to be taking more and more of my energy and spirit to get my head there like it should be, leaving little of me for other areas. I confessed to Jami that I was living in denial of our deadline last month, and I tried to stay there, but when she and Jason asked about this month I made myself get busy… only to find the last fruit listed is SELF-CONTROL! Doing what you need to do even when you don’t really feel like it! I get the message, God.
In reading several Bible versions, commentaries, and blog posts, I find several words in connection with self-control, with the most common one being self-discipline.
Many commentators agree that Paul saved it for last because it’s the most difficult, and it takes self-control to exercise all the other Fruits: All of them go against our human nature and we have to surrender to the Spirit and let Him control us. I liked the way Don Hooser said LOVE and SELF-CONTROL make bookends of all the Fruits:
“Perhaps self-control is listed last as the capstone—since it takes a lot of self-control to exercise the other eight virtues! It takes a lot of self-control just to “bridle” one’s tongue (James 1:26If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. See All…; 3:2). Maybe Paul was thinking of love and self-control as the two great bookends for the set.” From The Fruit of the Spirit – Self-Control: Governing Your Life by the Power of God
So why do you need self-control in your marriage?
Because you are married to a sinner, and so is your spouse. You have the most intimate relationship on earth, which means you see each other not only at your best, but also at your worst. You see all their warts– the lost tempers– the failed attempts at Godliness– the ways they fail you and let you down. Hear me now. Your spouse will disappoint you.
But when you have SELF-CONTROL, you can choose to forgive. You can choose to love. When you pray for your marriage to improve, and you are waiting it out patiently, you can choose to be kind and gentle, choosing joy and peace in the Lord, regardless of your circumstances. And when you are so full of the Spirit, your actions will more than likely set the tone for your spouse to follow suit, creating a Fruitful marriage– just a little taste of Heaven on earth.