“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverence, and in your perseverence, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”2 Peter 1:5-8
What is self-control? We know we lack it when we eat too much or yell or oversleep. Self-control is discipline of the will. Now, our will is the very last thing that wants to be disciplined. When we want something, we want it all, we want it now! Self-control is internal boundaries that our will has been taught to follow and to not cross. We all know that self-control is really Spirit-control, because by ourselves we can’t seem to be consistent. But with the help and guidance and reliance on the Holy Spirit, we can overcome all things!
Self-control is the last fruit in the list of the fruit of the Spirit. Is this because it is usually the last that grows? I think that our walk and relationship with the Lord starts and is continued only through self-control. At first it may be regimen only, then with the regimen comes the daily need and reliance. Look at 2 Peter above. Faith is followed by moral excellence, then knowledge, then self-control. I thought self-control was all about being morally excellent, but apparently not since it comes after that in the list. Faith comes and with it the desire to live right before God. That leads us to the need and desire for knowledge of our God which then makes us realize our need for self-control in all things. So self-control develops out of knowledge of the word of God. When we know how we ought to behave, then we can begin to gain self-control over those areas. When we have self-control, it then leads to perseverence, brotherly kindness, and love.
In my life, I have noticed that the more I practice self-control over an area, the easy it is to continue doing the right thng. That’s where perseverence comes in. When I have shown self-control for a period of time and I have persevered in a relationship, then I enter into real brotherly kindness and from that love. Just a reminder: self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. Trying to gain it on our own will fail, but with our roots deep in the word and our arms stretched out in praise and prayer to the Son, we can have and exercise self-control. If it were unattainable, then it would not have been listed here!
Hint of the day: Begin to pray over any area that you need self-control in. Then do what you know to do – get into the word and on your knees. The experts say that any bad habit can be undone by doing it differently for 30 days. This may be so with outward appearances, but the bad habits of the heart take a while longer (sometimes years) to overcome. But with prayer and knowledge you can begin to realize self-control. Persevere and when you look back over the last 2 or 5 or 10 years, the fruit of the Spirit will be evident to you.
Hint of the day 2: Children need to learn good habits and have healthy outward boundaries if they are to have healthy inward boundaries when they are older. Expecting a young child to exercise self-control without parental reminders is crazy! Remember that self-control is a fruit of the spirit even for our children. So don’t expect them to exercise self-control without Christ or without growing daily in His word.