Self-control is listed in Galatians 5, along with 8 other qualities, as a fruit of the Spirit. Paul is describing what the results are of being in a relationship with God and yielding to the Holy Spirit. Self-control is mentioned throughout the Bible, and is one of the most important qualities we need to grow in. Self-control is the last on the list of the fruit of the Spirit, which I believe makes it the greatest fruit.
Self-control is described as a fruit, not a gift. That means at the start it’s normal to have little self-control. Fruit is never immediately fully grown. The fruit of self-control also requires some level of care and attention. If you’re not intentionally caring for the fruit, over time it will fall off the tree and die. And because self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, and not a fruit of yourself, God intends to help you out.
One realization that I’ve had about self-control is that it keeps you in character. Self-control ensures that you don’t do or say things outside of who you are. God created everyone to be loving, a lack of self-control will result in you being hateful. God gives us peace, self-control keeps us from anger. The fruit of self-control is living as who God created and intended you to be.
Living in self-control will keep you out of all sorts of trouble. I think this looks different for everyone. Maybe self-control for you is being kind when someone is rude to you. Not yelling at the person who just cut you off. It may be bringing a salad for lunch instead of buying a piece of pizza, or avoiding certain websites late at night. My self-control will look a bit different than it does for you. Everyone has different struggles, but they all require the same self-control. Our temptations are all common to humanity. God will never allow us to be tempted with something we can’t handle. He always provides a way out. He always provides us with the strength to not give in (see 1 Corinthians 10:13).
A person without self-control is like a city with broken down walls.Proverbs 25:28
I don’t think anyone wants to be compared to a city with broken down walls. That may not be as relatable to us today, but when that proverb was written the walls around a city were everything. If the city walls were broken down enemies could easily attack the city, steal the good, and enslave the people. A lack of self-control in our life opens us up to destruction. Peter tells us that the devil is walking around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). That means there are people who the devil can devour, and people he can’t. Self-control is the walls that protect everything we have.
How Self-Control Grows
Self-control is defined as a fruit of the Spirit, meaning it has potential to grow. Just because a fruit has potential to grow doesn’t mean it will grow. We need to cultivate an environment that promotes growth. Thinking about fruit, the seeds are always found within the fruit. The seeds of the fruit of self-control are always within self-control. When we practice using self-control we are planting more seeds, therefore increasing the fruit. Fruit is not like other food where you eat it and it’s gone. Rather fruit leaves us with the seeds, the ability to grow the fruit over and over again.
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.2 Corinthians 9:10
When we find ourselves in situations that require self-control, God isn’t hoping for us to fail, He is setting us up to grow. Practicing self-control is no easy task. Proverbs also tells us that people who rule their spirit, people that can use self-control in difficult situations, are better than someone taking over a city (Proverbs 16:32). If you can find the strength in God to stay in control when everything is falling apart, and remain faithful in the midst of temptation, there is a reward.
Since self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, and not a gift, so an answered prayer looks different. When we pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, God gives us the gifts, then we unwrap them. When we pray for the fruit of the Spirit, God answers our prayer through opportunities. Many people who pray for patience find themselves in situations that demand a great deal of patience. Patience is also called long-suffering, so those answered prayers can be a challenge to say the least! When we pray for self-control God is faithful to answer our prayer. He won’t gives us self-control, He will give us opportunities to grow our self-control.