The Fruit of the Spirit
As we go through life and face so many struggles, trials and difficulties, self-control is something we must deal with daily. The Greek word for self-control in Galatians 5:23 is “egkrateia,” which means “temperance: the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, especially his sensual appetites.” With self-control, we control ourselves. We control our desires – our “want to’s”. Through self-control, we keep ourselves from doing something bad that we shouldn’t do, and we make ourselves do the good things that we should do.
Once again, the perfect example of self-control is found in Jesus. He is the one person who had perfect self-control His entire life. The Bible calls Jesus the one who “had no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21), which means He never sinned at all. Think about that kind of self-control! He never thought, “Just this one time, I can lie to my parents,” or, “No one will know if I punch my brother.” We might think, “Well, Jesus must have lived a life very different from me. He didn’t have to live with my brother or sister!” We might think that no one ever bothered Him, or nothing ever went wrong for Him. This is not true at all! For one thing, the Bible tells us that Jesus had lots of brothers and sisters (Matthew 13:55-56). Is it easy to live with brothers and sisters without ever being annoyed or frustrated with them? No, it’s not! In fact, the Bible says that Jesus was tempted to sin in every way that we are tempted (Hebrews 4:15), which means His brothers and sisters probably bugged Him sometimes, but He never sinned. He wasn’t mean to them. He didn’t hit them. He never stole their candy. He didn’t even think bad thoughts about them! That’s amazing self-control!
Jesus not only had self-control to keep Himself from doing wrong things; He had so much self-control that He was always able to do the right things! He always did what God wanted Him to do, even when it was very, very difficult and painful. Think about when Jesus was arrested and taken to the cross? On the night that Jesus was arrested, before the soldiers came to take Him, He was on the Mount of Olives praying to God. Jesus prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus knew that He would go through terrible suffering when He was arrested and nailed to a cross. But by His incredible self-control, Jesus chose to obey God’s will.
So, how can we have that kind of control over our own thoughts and actions? Self-control is simply when you control you, when you make yourself do the right thing, or keep yourself from doing the wrong thing. The term “self-control” is sort of a tricky phrase. It is “self”-control because no other person is doing it for us. But that doesn’t mean we are all on our own! God has given us his Spirit that lives inside of us. It is God who is really giving us the power to have self-control. We can have self-control just like Jesus did when we depend on the Spirit to guide us. We must control ourselves. We must do what is right. We must lead godly lives in today's world. Don’t ever think that you have to grow this fruit on your own! In fact, you can’t grow it on your own! Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). The fruit of God’s Spirit grows in us as we remain in Christ – as we talk to Him, listen to Him, and read His Word. As we remain in Christ, self-control grows in us and shows in us because of our relationship with Christ. The Fruit of the Spirit is self-control!