Self-control has always been the spiritual fruit that has intimated me. Somehow it has felt like a court order, a requirement that I could never meet. Then I read about the nine spiritual fruits in the Message and I had a revelation that has changed my approach to self-control, the ninth spiritual fruit found in Galatians 5:22-24.
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified. (Gal.5:22-24, MSG)
Eugene H. Peterson describes the self-control as an ability to marshal and direct our energies wisely. How beautiful is that! Much less intimating, much less accusing than self-control. Much more accessible, much more approachable than self-control. They talk about the same thing but the wording of the Message opens me to grace.
This revelation of self-control gives me an understanding about what to pray. This gives me an idea how to approach self-control in my life. This lifts off the stand-offish attitude of mine that has prevented God’s work in this are of my life. This opens me to the Holy Fire to do his work in me. Because this is what I want. Who wouldn’t want to have an ability to marhshal and direct one’s energies wisely? Yes, Lord, bring it on!
Just the word ‘self-control’ had left me discouraged, failed before I even started. That’s legalism in action. But seeing self-control as an ability to marshal and direct my energies wisely is inviting, encouraging and down-right desirable. That’s grace in action. Yes, Lord, bring it on!
Thank you for teaching us.,
Thank you for loving us
even when we are stand-offish.
Keep on working in us.
Let your Holy Fire burn what needs to be burned.
Let your Holy Spirit renew us inside and out.
Let your Holy Ghost enable us to bear much fruit for you.
In Jesus’ name,
Q4U: How does this approach to self-control make you feel?
May God bless you, my fellow pilgrim, beyond your wildest dreams!
This post has previously been published 4/2010. Photo courtesy of Reborn Church