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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Fruit of God's Spirit: A Look at 'Self Control'

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."
Galatians 5:22-25

Last night I was the 'guest speaker' at a church I used to attend for their ladies Christmas gathering. Women of the church hosted tables that they decorated, purchased gifts for, and invited friends to dine with them for the evening. The spread of food was overwhelming and was followed by games and a gift exchange as well! A special 'thank you' to my dear table hostess, Chloris, for her kindness!

I wanted to share on the topic I spoke on briefly to encourage and challenge you. I asked my husband a week ago, when I was still considering what I should talk on, what topics he thought would be beneficial. He said, "Whatever is on your heart right now...whatever you are dealing with personally...someone else is there too".

A few days ago I decided to combine the boy's art and Bible lesson into the theme of 'The Fruit of God's Spirit'. We cut out colorful construction paper into the shapes of all kinds of fruit and wrote out all nine spiritual 'fruit' names. We made a large tree and decorated the wall above our pantry. Each time one of the boys would disobey or hurt his brother, we would walk over to the wall hand in hand, read the verse, and then they would be asked to point out which fruit they were lacking. We would then pray together that God's Spirit would grant them the ability to gain where needed.

As the day went on we all noticed that their was one fruit in particular that our carnal/sin nature was having more problems with than the others. The watermelon, also known as self-control, was tripping us up each time. Webster's defines self-control as, "restraint exercised over one's own impulses, emotions or desires. And we (meaning me and the boys) we greatly lacking in that area.

Paul was speaking to the church when he writes in Galatians 5:16-18, "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law."

He goes onto say in the following verses of chapter 5:22-25, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."

Restraint over my emotions and desires?! I’m here to tell you that ain’t gonna happen without the Holy Spirit! As Paul said, 'our sinful nature does that which is contrary to the Spirit of God and they are in conflict with one another!' Remember, this is not a battle which you should try to fight on your own! These fruits are an evidence of our growth in Christ. Those of us who have chosen to trust in Jesus for our salvation have the ability to rely on His Spirit to apply this fruit in our daily life.

I have to laugh at myself or other mom’s when we talk about ‘jr’ and the mother says “how bad they are; they aren’t thoughtful of others, they won’t share; they are back-talking…etc.' Why? We act so confused- yet the WORD reminds us that it is Our sinful nature! It is within us from birth. Have you heard the toddler’s creed? Let me remind you..

If I want it, it's mine.
If I give it to you and change my mind later, it's mine.
If I can take it away from you, it's mine.
If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.
If it's mine, it will never belong to anybody else, no matter what.
If we are building something together, all the pieces are mine.
If it looks just like mine, it is mine.

Only with age have most of us learned manners and enough political correctness, to not say in public what is “on our minds”. You may be smiling into the sunshine, when your boss is ‘givin’ it to you’, but underneath those pearly whites you may be thinking a few choice words. Whether you are 1 or 100- we all still deal with it. Self control! The ability only through the Holy Spirit to show restraint over my emotions, my desires, and my impulses.

Let me share a true story about my lack of self-control from a very short time ago. The boys and I were in Meijer. It was right before Daddy was to come home for dinner and I decided we needed french bread baguettes to go with our Italian dinner that evening. The boys- let me tell you- were DONE! They were done! They had a long day and had no desire to go trapsing into Meijer for baguettes. I was stressed and frankly- not a good combination.

So, here we are in the self-checkout lane (between you and me- not a big fan of them!) I had one hand on the bread scanning it and another on my lil's bub's pants trying to hold him in the cart. My oldest was rolling around the floor and I was about to lose my mind. Nothing was scanning correctly and I was ticked. Then I did something that will remain to this day a complete surprise to even me. I began to beat the self-checkout machine with the baguette. After one solid punch to the fiesty machine, I heard a sweet voice behind me say, “Angel? Is that you?” I turned around to see our pastor's daughter-in-law standing behind me! Not only was I embarressed, but I was reminded that even when we think no one is watching...someone always is.

Who are the people that see you daily and intimately? Wife- your husband? Mother- your children? Daughter- your parent? Sister- your sibling? Do they see the working of the Holy Spirit in you-? Do they see the evidence of growth in your walk with the Lord? How easy is it to lose control of our emotions and impulses around those who will forgive us because of their love for us. Are we disrespecting our husband our breaking the spirit of our child because of our lack of control? Sister, brother in Christ- let us forsake the old sin nature and desire the freedom of Christ and His Spirit.

Most of the time it is easier to show restraint in public places. We know that the public is watching and something in us doesn't want our reputation to be tarnished in the light of those strangers among us. The real evidence, however, of your growth will be seen around those who you are “yourself” with- in the private of your home…in the darkness of your minivan's tinted windows.

I pray that you would desire wisdom and guidance so that through the Holy Spirit you may have...

Love (even when there is hate in your heart)
Joy (even in the grief of losing a loved one)
Peace (in the conflict of a rocky marriage or an abusive husband)
Patience (even when your children have pushed you to the edge)
Kindness (to the abrasive and rude boss or co-worker)
Goodness ( to the parent who has always been critical or judgemental)
Faithfulness (to continue to pray in spite of apathy)
Gentleness (to the driver in front of you that insists on going 20 miles an hour on the freeway when you are late)
And, finally, self-control, in the most private of your heart- when only God is watching.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

LOL! You beat the computer with the baguettes?! I understand your frustration and embarrassment, though. I struggle with the watermelon, too. It seems especially difficult this time of year when over-eating isn't frowned upon by others. Thank you for sharing this!!