Selfless Self-Control (Fruits of the Spirit part 9)

“The fruit of the Spirit is…temperance”

The last fruit of the Spirit listed is temperance. It basically means self-control. The generally accepted idea is that we experience the temptation to sin but self-control enables us to resist and overcome. And this is true but there’s more to it. We’re not meant to be focused solely on our own holiness (i.e. sinlessness) for its own sake. Jesus forgave and effectively took care of every sin that humanity has committed and ever will commit, when He died and resurrected. Yes, there will come a time, if necessary, that you will experience “manifold temptations” as Peter says (see 1 Peter 1:6), but self-control really comes into focus when, after that period of trial and suffering, when you reach the edge of the desert and the outskirts of civilization, that God gives you your Promised Land (whatever personal blessing that may be). It’s now your job to defend and maintain the gift from enemies foreign (the devil, etc.) and domestic (complacency, ingratitude). This is the hard but worthwhile work of self-control, and is one of the main reasons that we go through trials in the first place. God gives us the privilege of seeing and tasting what Jesus went through but also to learn (meekness/teachability!) how to develop and cultivate a quiet heart and mind that is sensitive to the slightest whisper of direction from the Holy Spirit. And when someone’s mind is too loud, for lack of temperance, we might miss the path down which God wants us to go. David learned how. He says in Psalm 131 (vs. 2) that his soul is “behaved and quieted…even as a weaned child”.

Pride-based apathy has to be the most out-of-control attitude in our church and world. The discipline needed to maintain God’s Kingdom and program through worship and praise requires far more self-control than the resistance of simple outward mistakes and sins. As we remain meek and humble, we are enabled by God through the Holy Spirit to take responsibility for the part of God’s Kingdom that He has entrusted to us. Something that’s far more important and exciting than simply being concerned about not making mistakes for your own sake.

“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” (Romans 8:13)

Meekness, or teachability, as we saw earlier, is the inroad to learning how to control yourself as pleasing to God and to remain in the flow of all of the fruits of God’s Holy Spirit so He can get done on this earth what He wants.

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