Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Fruit of Self-Control

1 Corinthians 6:12 “Everything is permissible for me,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible for me,” but I will not be brought under the control of anything.

I started in on a lower carb lifestyle about 8 months ago (not low carb, because that's just crazy, but about 100g a day instead of 300g+). For about the first 6 months, I was going strong, and lost almost 30 pounds. I have since been hovering about 3-5 pounds above my low point, and it is because I have started to slip back into some of my old habits. As I was driving to work the other day, I was listening to a teaching on this passage. It took a couple of days to settle in, and I began to see a glimpse of how Paul's words to the Corinthians can change me today.

Every time I think about the long list of fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, I usually consider them as a whole, and quite honestly by the time I get to the end of the list, it's almost as if I have lost interest or something. My thoughts kind of trail off, or maybe I am just too focused on the ones that are a little easier for me, I don't know. But it was like a mini revelation for me on the way to work Friday morning:

Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, and thus can only come from the Spirit.

Some of you may be thinking, "Well, duh!" But even now, I sit and marvel at the idea of self-control not being found within one's self. How often do we hear that from our culture? Just believe in yourself, exercise some will power and self discipline, and you can accomplish anything. What a misguided, and easily believed, notion.

There is a lady at my work who has taken it upon herself to provide a myriad of "snacks" (read: junk) for people to eat free of charge. I myself have been partaking of all things chocolate everyday for the last several weeks, which I would imagine is the reason why I have reached a plateau in my weight loss. I can specifically remember thinking to myself on more than one occasion, "Come on, Jason, have a little self-control, a little will power. What's the matter with you?". 

Well, what was wrong was that I was trying to achieve under my own power what can only come from the Spirit of God. Self-control isn't about controlling yourself by the power of your own will. It is about crucifying yourself by the power of the Spirit of God. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit because only the Spirit can cause it to grow in a person's life.

Galatians 5:16-18 I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

You may think you want self-control, but your flesh doesn't. Self-control is one of the goals of the Spirit for a person's life, and the flesh desires what is against the Spirit.

I prayed several times on Friday "God, grow self-control within me." And I kept repeating to myself the truth of 1 Corinthians 6:12, in the NIV that I heard it preached: "I will not be mastered by anything." I didn't have any chocolate on Friday. I then forgot to keep praying once I got home and had a big honkin piece of cake. Doh!

Just like Apollos planting and Paul watering, you can create an environment in your life that is conducive to growing self-control in your life. Do you have a problem with certain foods? Then don't buy them at the store. Are sexual images on the net your temptation? Get rid of the computer if you have to. But in the end understand this: it is God who causes the growth. If you desire the fruit of self-control, you must ask God to grow self-control within you by the power of His Spirit.