Last week the Sembawang Church had our camp in Malacca where we studied about the fruit of the Spirit. We had a wonderful time of learning about these nine-fold fruit as well as sharing together in group workshops. One of the campers came up to me and expressed that to him self-control was one of the most important aspects of this fruit of the Spirit. Though it was last in the list in Galatians 5, it was certainly not the least. And how much we do need it in our lives!
This fact was underscored again when I happened to watch a sports news report recently. It reported that a tennis player was immediately disqualified from the tournament “due to unsportsmanlike behaviour.” After apologizing on court for his actions, he explained, “I never intended to hit him (the line judge), it was an unfortunate reaction in which I wanted to let off steam after losing a point.”
We live in a world where we see people and things get out of control easily. We heard about the car accident and loss of lives in the news as when a driver lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a tree. People lose control of their tempers in road rage incidents. Drunkards did a lot of weird things when they were under the control of alcohol. The financial problems that are currently causing unrest and hardships in some European countries could be due to their economic and financial systems getting out of control.
We too, at one time or another also lose control of our tempers or tongues on the spur of the moment. How could we then have this fruit of self-control abiding in us? I believe the Scriptures give us the following directions so that this fruit could be produced in us.
First, we must come to Christ and take up His yoke upon us. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt. 11: 28, 29).
If we are to have self-control, we ourselves must first be under control of Christ. When we take the yoke of Christ, we are declaring publicly that we submit ourselves under His control. When He is in full control of our lives, then He will enable us to exercise self-control in our lives.
Secondly, we must daily yield ourselves to the control of the Spirit. “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5: 18).
To be filled is to be controlled by the indwelling Spirit of God who continually controls and dominates the life of the believer. Note the beginning part of this verse which says, “Do not get drunk with wine for that is debauchery.” A drunkard is a person under the influence of intoxicating drinks and this will lead to a lack of restraint and bizarre behavior. We must daily make the conscious effort to submit to the Spirit’s control .
Lastly, we must be saturated with the word of Christ. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Col. 3:16). This means that we are to take time to delve into God’s Word and make it our goal to understand and practice it daily.
If we follow the instructions of God’s word above, we will truly bear this beautiful fruit of self-control. Why not right now, relinquish the “steering wheel” of your lives and ask the Lord Jesus to take over and enable you to have self-control?
Rev. Mark Tay