Self-control is the last of the fruits of the Spirit, but certainly not least in importance. Some of the other fruits like love, patience, kindness, goodness, and gentleness are contingent on exhibiting self-control to one degree or another. It is of prime importance when it comes to living a godly and disciplined life that is an example to others(I Corinthians 9:25-27). It is also one of the qualifications listed for elders in a local church (Titus 1:6-9).
There are several biblical applications to self-control. The first one is what is done with the physical body or put into the body. I Corinthians 6:19 reminds believers in Christ that our bodies are “temples of the Holy Spirit.” Self-control, therefore, must be master over the body. That includes what one does with the so-called vaccine. A very specific example is found in Hebrews 13:4. “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” Self-control must be practiced with people outside of marriage.
Part of the body, of course, is the tongue, and with it, one’s speech. James 3:2-10 puts emphasis on controlling the tongue. More specifically, verse 6, compares the tongue to a fire which “defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life…but no one can tame the tongue…” We all know that one uncontrolled word spoken to another can destroy a relationship, and even wound a culture.
Another application is one’s emotions. Proverbs 16:32 says, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.” So, self-control is responding to people or circumstances in a controlled fashion verses reacting in anger. How does one respond under the control of the Holy Spirit without getting angry? There is a strategy that can be led by the Holy Spirit. These next five points are taken from my book, “God’s Healing Hope:Breaking The Strongholds of Wrong Thinking” (J. Clark, Trafford Publishing, 2008, page 84).
1. Yelling is never justified.
2. Recognize what sorts of things or situations have the potential to make you angry.
3. Plan in advance how you will respond in a non-destructive way.
4. Think of positive alternatives to avoid reacting, including writing down what you will say.
5. It is Important that you vent your anger, but not around other people.
I hope you have been strengthened in your spiritual walk from reading this series on the fruits of the Spirit. I will leave you with these thoughts from Oswald Chambers: “The indwelling Spirit is the supreme guide, and He keeps us absorbed with our Lord…The test that we are being taught by the Holy Spirit is our lives are proving identical with the life of the Son of God”(O. Chambers, Conformed to His Image, Zondervan, 1950, page 49).