Self-control is a fruit of the spirit I don’t hear much about. In my Bible study the other night, I was reminded of how many areas are encompassed in this one character trait.
America has become a feel-good society. “If it feels good, do it” was the slogan of the hippies but many still have that mentality today. We have comfort food, promiscuous sex, rampant gossip, etc. (James 3 has a lot to say about the tongue and is worth taking the time to read.)
Whatever we do in word or deed, we are told to do all to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). There are also things God has told us not to do which all centers around living for self. Once we become children of God, our lives become His. Everything we do, say, and think are to reflect Him. If we are constantly feeding our flesh, we are not going to reflect our Father but instead are the antithesis of Him.
If there is one fruit that a lot of us don’t possess, it is this one but I feel like it is key to all the others. If you can master self-control, I believe love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, etc. will begin to exhibit itself. This is an area I am still working on. I pray for God’s help to surrender this area of my life to Him in every way that He shows me. I want and need God’s presence in my life. If anything is hindering that, it is not worth holding on to.
I know a lot of people who are older, and I have begun making note of the character traits I would like to acquire and those I would like to discard before they become a part of my life. It seems many older people become bitter and unhappy in their later years while others are sweet and giving in spite of their pain. This latter group is the group I want to belong to but I realize they did not get this way overnight. I believe those who are a joy to be around in their golden years began to live a joyous life in their youth. Those who are bitter may have allowed roots to grow when they were younger, however, they were careful to keep it inside. As they got older and their mind began to go, what was in their heart came to the surface to where now they cannot let go of it.
That is a sober thought. It’s not enough to look good on the outside. What is in my heart? Is it full of love and kindness, or is it bitter and angry, holding grudges that are going to die when I do? Will I be a joy to care for when I’m old or will everyone be drawing straws to see who has to take care of me? Although this is a ways off in the future, I need to choose now what kind of person I will be. I need to get God’s Word firmly planted in my heart that it is what flows out of me when I can remember nothing else.
For those who are already elderly, it is never too late to change. If you have become old and grouchy, don’t excuse it because of your age. Think about how it is affecting those around you and begin to be a blessing. It may shock your friends and family but they will recover.
For you young people, don’t think you have 40 years to develop better habits and treat people better. Begin now. It may seem like you have your whole life ahead of you but those years will go by faster than you think.