In our Winter Sunday School Class, the Rev. Leigh Spruill has been teaching on the fruits of the Spirit with the primary Scripture verse from Galatians 5:22-23a:
“By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
We’ve been studying different “fruits” since early January and today we studied on “patience”. But the one that keeps ringing in my ears is “self-control.”
Self-control has always been difficult in various areas of my life like pride, anger, and affection.
It is no consolation that others struggle with self-control, too. In Romans 7:15-20, we hear St. Paul in a perceptive self-examination: “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.”
Just like St. Paul, I find it easier to think about self-control than to actually accomplish it, but when I don’t discipline myself, it’s hard for others to see Christ in me. It’s not what I say but what I do that speaks of Christ’s love.
Just when I think that I have accomplished the goal of self-control, I fail and feel like I am starting all over again.
It is my mistake that I think it is me that has the power to overcome my sins. As I re-read the verses from Galatians, Paul talks about self-control being a fruit of the Spirit; it is the Spirit that is in control, not me.
Even more comforting are the words from today’s epistle from 1 Corinthians 10:13: “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.”
It is only through Christ that I can exhibit the fruits of the spirit like self-control.
Blessings, my friend,