As we use the fruits of the Spirit as our worship focus, so far we have looked at love, kindness, patience, and self-control. But we haven’t really talked much about self-control, have we? Self-control, as a fruit of the spirit, feels tricky. Culturally we think of self-control in terms of counting calories, or sticking to a budget, but as a spiritual fruit is that what it means? I’ve been digging around in scripture trying to get a more nuanced view of what self-control means for our faith, and I think this passage from 2 Peter 1:3-9 is helpful:
3His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature. 5For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, 6and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness,7and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. 8For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9For anyone who lacks these things is nearsighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins.
These fruits are reflections of who we are as children of God, made in the image of God to love as God loves. Sure, self-control and moderation around food and money are healthy habits, but it’s our contenance, our ability to regulate our behaviors in our relationships and communities that make a faithful response to God’s love. When we use self-control in our speech and actions we are participants in the divine nature, contributing to the abundant life God intends, rather than killing and diminishing with our words and behaviors. As you think about what self-control means as a spiritual fruit, what comes to mind? When have you been intentional about self-control in such a way that you were a participant in God’s work? As you reflect, may you remember that you have already been given everything you need through the promises of Christ to live into the fullness of God.
In Peace, Pastor Ruth
Let us pray:
Lead us, Gracious God, and shape us by the grace of Christ and the inspiration of your Holy Spirit. Open our hearts to expand our understanding of patience and self-control, that we may grow in our ability to reflect your love and grace to those we meet this day. All this we ask in the name of Christ, Amen.