Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Fruit of the Spirit: Day 11: Self-control


The final fruit of the spirit in Paul’s list sounds like a distinct anti-climax. What could be duller than self-control? It reminds us of the grim struggle not to eat that second chocolate biscuit (or even the first), not to get enraged at the irritating uncle who always ruins the family gathering. It sounds negative, life- and pleasure-denying. And yet, in many ways, it is fundamental to all those fruits which have gone before it. If we can’t control ourselves, we will have no power to do anything other than to go with the flow of every emotion and impulse that hits us. How can we be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful or gentle if we can’t stop ourselves doing the things which destroy them? Self-control gives us choice. It is the key to freedom.

Self-control doesn’t mean we never show emotion, or that we never struggle, though. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus was wracked with fear and sorrow at the thought of his coming crucifixion, but he didn’t run away. (Luke 22.39-46) He chose to go through with the mission to which he had been called to its end. His courageous self-control enabled him to choose to show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness even as he was being mocked and killed.

·         Do you think of yourself as self-controlled? If not, what gets in the way? Why is it difficult for you to resist the temptation to do something you know to be wrong?
·         When did you last lose your self-control and why? What were the consequences?
·         Pray: that God would give you confidence in his love so that you can find the courage to make tough choices when you need to. 


Fruit doesn’t grow overnight, unless it is a magic beanstalk, and fruit trees often need regular care and attention if they are to produce anything worth eating. I love gardening, and helping people to cultivate what God is growing in their lives is the best sort of gardening there can be.

If this set of reflections has made you think about the fruitfulness of your life, or has stirred up questions or feelings, please feel free to get in touch.

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