Self-control… The Misunderstood Fruit.

The fruit of the Spirit is self-control… The fruit of the Spirit is self-control…  The fruit of the Spirit is self-control… The fruit of the Spirit is self-control… The fruit of the Spirit is self-control… The fruit of the Spirit is self-control…

I have jokingly said this is my mantra when people bug me or I have something to say that is not really all that good to be saying.  My report cards when I was a kid always had a note in the margin that read… “Leonard would do better in school if he had a “little more” self-control.”  I have it on first hand experience that he never got a “little more.”

Self-control, back then, was about sitting still and controlling the impulses of a creative mind.   For many people self-control is about losing a few pounds.  “Push away from the table, walk or exercise a “little more”, cut back on the carbs… it only takes a “little more” self-control.”  Others reference self-control when it comes to breaking a habit.  Attempts to stop biting fingernails, quit smoking, cut back on caffeine have all been made under the banner of a “little more” self-control.

So here is a question that comes to mind; When Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write “the fruit of the Spirit is self-control” that he had in mind some kids in the province of Galatia who could not sit still, or some middle-aged guy whose tunic was starting to get too tight?  Do you think his mind raced to how manicured the cuticle’s of those living in the province of Galatia were?  Could he have been concerned about the caloric and caffeine intake of those from Lystra or Derbe?  I am sorry, but I just cannot imagine this was what God was after in our lives when He said that the result of hanging out with Him would be self-control.

If this was not what he had in mind, how is it that we have reduced self-control to a means of stopping bad or destructive behaviors or getting back into a smaller size of pants?  When did self-control become about self-improvement?

What if self-control was something God wanted to produce on our lives to move us toward himself rather than move us away from behaviors?  What if self-control was more about transformation than improvement?  Here is my take.

I have at my control the kind of person I want to be.  I have at my control the depth of relationship I want with Christ.  I have at my control the amount of time I invest in knowing the scriptures.  I have at my control the width and depth of my prayer life.  I have at my control how I prioritize my life for impact and partnership with Christ in kingdom endeavors.  I control who my master is in this life.

What’s more, the Holy Spirit of God is working to produce in me the kind of character that uses the “self-control” mantra to become a person whose life is identified by these words.  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and of course… self control. So let’s use self-discipline to drop some weight and even some self-restraint to quit a habit or two, but along the way how about we stay close enough to God so he can produce in us the transforming virtue of self-control.  That’s all for today, thanks for reading.  Off… we go now.

~ by OFF we go now on September 5, 2010.

2 Responses to “Self-control… The Misunderstood Fruit.”

  1. Really enjoyed this humorous and thoughtful post!

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Roger Saunders, Leonard Lee. Leonard Lee said: Self-control… The Misunderstood Fruit.: […]

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