The blessing of self-control

As we grow in our journey to completeness in Jesus, we look to him who perfectly gave us the example of having all the fruit, including self-control.

As we finish up the Life Alive series, I can’t help but think how Mark has opened each one of these sermons.   He says love is the soil in which all fruit grows.  God’s love for us and our love for Him.  It makes sense this kind of love, mixed with the spirit, is the perfect blend for growth in true humility, loving kindness, integrity, patience, peace, and even joy.  This is how we journey in our walk to completeness in Jesus.  

If this is true, then why is it so many of us struggle with letting this life changing love direct us in all areas of our life (a.k.a. self-control)?  How do we know if we are striving in this life by our own strength or if we are resting in the strength that only God provides?   And by resting, I don’t mean sitting on the couch watching another episode of Heartland. 

Truly, what is the big deal about self-control anyway?  Does self-control only pertain to things such as food, screens, drugs, gossip, and sex?  Why does self-control feel so different than the other fruit?   Is the answer to my questions as simple as the name of the fruit it’s self… SELF control?  Could it really be that simple?

All the other fruit involve others.  They can be about self but mostly patience is about how we interact and feel toward others.   Loving-kindness can definitely be about viewing ourselves through God’s eyes, but mostly it is about meeting the needs of others.   I think each of them can be viewed from this perspective.  But looking at self-control, does me not eating that second cookie really bless others?

As I’ve prayed over this blog post and this topic (and if I’m being honest, I laughed out loud when I saw this was the topic given me, because this is THE one I struggle with the most), the Lord has really softened my heart concerning it and all these questions I’ve been asking.  

1 Corinthians 9:23-27 says, ‘For the sake of the gospel …. I run … to get a crown that will last forever.’  My first thought, I’d rather have a crown than a cookie (ha) but mostly, for the sake of the Gospel is where my heart lands!  The gospel is about others, not self.  Perspective change!  Self-control does bless the kingdom.  

1 Corinthians 10:11-13 ‘Be careful that you don’t fall … God will always provide a way out.’   In order for me to see the way out he provides, I have to have my eyes looking toward him not myself!  When I do that, I can see that even though I want that second cookie, God reminds me this body is a temple and actually it is his home.

Romans 12:1-2.  ‘Renew your mind, then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is.’  Does God want me to truly give pause and reframe my thoughts about eating that second cookie? I see now that he does.  Honoring my temple and practicing self-control will help me know God’s will, his good pleasing and perfect will! 

Self-control isn’t about self at all, it is about God’s kingdom, God’s temple, and God’s will.   As we grow in our journey to completeness in Jesus, we look to him who perfectly gave us the example of having all the fruit, including self-control.  By letting God’s love for me and my love for him grow me, I do clearly see that self-control is important but mostly I see that it is possible!

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