The Fruit of Self-Control
The Beginning, Part 2, Character of God
Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV
Numbers 14:17-18 ESV
John 20:19-23 ESV
2 Timothy 1:7 ESV
The Apostle Paul felt so strongly about self control that he equated it with winning the whole prize in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. He stated, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
The same analogy is true today. A well-trained athlete who has self-control during training is able to use that same control as he runs the race.
According to Paul, discipline is the key.
God is our perfect example of discipline. God all-powerful could eradicate evil at any time and in any given situation. Who among us has not thought about what it would be like to have God step in and immediately “fix” a situation when we’ve been mistreated?
But while God is all-powerful, God is compassionate. Numbers 14:17-18 says, “And now, please let the power of the Lord be great as you have promised, saying, ‘The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.’”
While God is powerful and can act, His love is patient and kind. He forgives. In addition to exercising control with others, God gives us time (whether we’ve been hurt or have hurt another) and He waits for us to turn to Him.
As believers our discipline takes on new meaning. What is good discipline for believers today? We have Jesus as our example. In John 20:19-23 we read, “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
Jesus knew His disciples were afraid and fearful to the point of death and so He went to them. He gave them what they needed to control their fear. He gave them peace that passes understanding. That same peace is available to help calm our fears and discipline our anger
Like you, I’ve experienced fear and pain. I need self-control and I do not have it in and of myself. I had to learn how to surrender my pain to God. At first, it wasn’t easy because I would give it to God and take it back again almost immediately. A thousand times I’ve surrendered and a thousand times I’ve taken it back, but I kept at it. One day, I realized that I was able to release it and leave it with God for a few hours. That grew to a day, and eventually with God’s help with self-control, I was able to let God hold onto it for longer periods of time. It’s a discipline. God gives it and helps us as we practice leaving it in His hands.
Today I still practice self-control by taking my pain to God when it turns up, surrendering it and asking God to heal me. I don’t practice it every day, but when ‘life’ happens, God is there to help and heal.
I don’t know where you stand on self-discipline today. I don’t know if you’ve ever practiced it, but I do know that God is there for you.
One of my favorite scriptures is also a children’s song that I learned years ago. In 2 Timothy 1:7 we read, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
It’s a gift. God gives it when we ask for it, but just like anything “practice makes perfect.”
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Surrender
If someone has hurt you emotionally, surrender it to God. Give control to Him and let God heal you. Let God give you self-control.
In God, Deborah