Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control. 2 Peter 1:5-6
Even if you live all by yourself on a deserted island somewhere in the middle of the ocean, you will be required by God on a daily basis to exercise self-control.
The NIV Study Bible defines self-control as “victory over sinful desires” while the Dictionary of Bible Themes defines it as “physical and emotional self-mastery, particularly in situations of intense provocation or temptation.”
If you are walking in the fruit of self-control, you can restrain yourself when you are tempted to do what is wrong, so that you do what is right instead.
Can we really walk in the fruit of self-control?
Self-control, as with other fruit of the Spirit, is the outward expression of God’s nature within us. It is a fruit borne by those who are led by the Spirit of God. On our own, we cannot succeed in walking in the fruit of self-control. However, as we spend time in God’s presence asking for His help and yielding ourselves to the Holy Spirit, WE CAN!!
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3
Controlling our thoughts, emotions, words and actions
Thoughts and emotions
With the help of God, we have to learn to control our thoughts and emotions. Negative thoughts produce negative emotions, which usually precede negative actions. Therefore, we should not allow our minds to roam unrestrained. Once a thought that is contrary to the will of God enters our minds, we should replace such thoughts with the truth of God’s word (Philippians 4:8). By doing so, we can exercise restraint, overlook offenses and avoid:
- Unforgiveness etc etc
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5
We have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16b
WORDS! WORDS!! WORDS!!!
It is also vitally important to control the things we say.
Have you ever said something you know you shouldn’t have? I have. However, the Word of God instructs us to guard our mouths and to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry (James 1:19, Proverbs 21:23). Exercise self-control and avoid:
- Having the last word during arguments
- Godless, idle, meaningless chatter (2 Timothy 2:16)
- Foul language (Ephesians 4:29) etc etc
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3
Self-control also involves yielding to godly principles ONLY and abstaining from the behavior patterns and lusts of this world in all areas including:
- Sexual purity
- Modesty in our dressing and appearance
- Ungodly competition etc etc
Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Romans 6:12
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2
But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:27
Self-control in our walk with God
If we do not live disciplined self-controlled lives, we will be ineffective ambassadors and servants of God. Without self-control, we will not be effective in:
- Studying and meditating on the Word
- Praise and worship
- Service and ministry
- Church attendance
- Sharing the gospel etc etc
Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. Titus 1:8
Self-control in our daily lives
In order to fulfill our calling and purpose in life, we have to be disciplined and self-controlled. Otherwise, we will live chaotic, messy, unfulfilled lives. Areas to exercise control include:
- Money: restrain ourselves from spending more than we can afford
- In our families as husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, children: avoiding bouts of rage, resentment and self-pity
- At work: getting to work on time, applying diligence, doing our work as unto the Lord and not unto men (Colossians 3.23)
- Limiting the amount of time we spend on social media; too much of which can definitely clog up our ability to hear from God
- Taking care of ourselves: eating healthy, exercising and getting adequate sleep
- Avoiding laziness in all areas of our lives: getting up to accomplish the tasks requited of us each day
A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep. So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler. and your need like an armed man. Proverbs 6:10-11
Self-control and the fruit of the Spirit
In summary, self-control is restraining ourselves to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit instead of the works of the flesh.
No self-control = no fruit
It takes self-control to walk in the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness. Without self-control, we will throw in the towel at the slightest provocation, walk out of love, lose our joy, peace and patience in the process, determine that there’s no point in being kind, good or faithful and act totally rude and brash while we are at it!!!
Self-control is our friend. As Apostle Peter admonished in the opening verse of this post, we should make every effort to walk in self-control.
My prayer for you is that you begin to sincerely desire the fruit of self-control, making a habit to daily ask God in prayer for help to grow in this area, and for strength to yield to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to exercise restraint in adverse situations.
Except where indicated, Scriptures are taken from the NIV.
Other posts on Fruit of the Spirit:
- Beauty in Christ: The Fruit of the Spirit
- Love: A Key to Spiritual Growth
- 15 Practical Tips for Maintaining Peace