Have you ever given yourself this pep talk: Control yourself! C’mon, get it together NOW! You can do it. C’mon, man.
Most of us face this SELF-CONTROL CHALLENGE every day as our earthly desires collide with the Holy Spirit and toss us into perpetual confusion.
No wonder God’s fruit of self-control is so important in our faith walk. Actually, it’s more than important—it’s a clarion call for us to toss aside our fleshly desires. It’s an imperative to tame our wild nature, not only when things are running smoothly, but also when we are looking into the eye of a “life storm.” And it’s a prompt to anchor our soul to the Holy Spirit.
Jesus could have called down enormous power at any time against his enemies. But instead he exercised self-control throughout his ministry. It was the kind of discipline we need to wrangle the actions, emotions, and impulses that percolate up inexorably from our soul. This includes the outward things we do, as well as the inward things we think and feel.
We must never forget that self-control is manufactured in us and distributed from us by the Holy Spirit. Since it comes from God and not of our own “power,” we must give all the glory to him as its source. We might be able to muster the “willpower” to exercise self-control, but it will only be fleeting and is impossible to maintain.
Winning the battle to control our emotions is not about us controlling anything, but rather about God giving us the ability and blessing to control our self.
“It is better to be patient than powerful. It is better to win control over yourself than over whole cities.” Proverbs 16:32
As our Creator, God knows us better than we could ever know ourselves. That’s why I want to tame my fleshly desires and emotions and attitudes by having his Holy Spirit’s power of self-control take over and infuse me with Christ-likeness. We need to rely on his power when life starts pressing in on all sides.
Relying on our own strength to control life is a futile attempt at playing God. The only route to success in this regard is to ask him to grant us the spiritual discipline we need to emulate the self-control fruit of his Spirit.