But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.Galatians 5:22-23 ESV
The final fruit of the Spirit in this list is self-control. Self-control is stopping. It is literally standing in the way of our enemies having a hold on us. There are so many things in this world fighting against us—other people, our culture, our own flesh, and even Satan himself. These enemies don’t always fight in plain view on the battlefield—we don’t always know the target. They are sly and manipulative, and they can take our hearts captive without us even noticing.
Self-control is the fruit of the Spirit that puts a boundary around our hearts and protects us. If we are regularly in the Word and in prayer, confessing our sin and asking the Holy Spirit to convict us and fill us, this fruit will become stronger. The Spirit will reveal our blind spots and give us the conviction to resist temptation. It will help us to see our enemies and stop them before they even start the fight. This fruit of the Spirit has the power to reveal our temptations to us and stop them before they grow to overwhelm us.
Self-control says no to the anxious thoughts; it says no to the fears because it says yes to quiet time in His Word. Self-control says no to the food, or the shopping, or the drinking because it says yes to confession and repentance. Self-control says no to the anger or the frustration at things not going our way because it says yes to daily worship of our one true King.
When we make the choice to be obedient to what He calls us to do, we find the Spirit strengthening our self-control. The problem is far too often, we say no to those things—daily time in the Word, in prayer, and in worship, and we aware left with no strength to say no to the anxious or angry thoughts, to the food or to whatever other temptations that are placed in front of us.
Self-control is most essential in marriage because it makes all the other fruits possible. Because of self-control, we make the choice to obey His command and spend time in the His Word and in prayer—that choice gives us the strength to demonstrate all the other fruits to our spouse. We need self-control in our marriage because we are sinners, married to sinners. Marriage is the intimate knowledge of another person’s strengths and weaknesses. This means we feel the greatest impact of those strengths and weaknesses every day. You will see their victories, but you will also see their failures quite regularly—you will know their faults, how they fall short of the glory of God, how they will disappoint you. You will see their anger, their fears, and their foolishness. Self-control chooses to show them grace in the moment, self-control chooses forgiveness for the hurt, self-control chooses to say “I love you before me.”
Paul saved this fruit for last because he knows this is the fruit that requires the most discipline—we must stay on our knees and in His Word every day to keep our self-control strong. It’s far too easy to get lazy and give in to the temptations of the world if we’re not. Be strong, and stand in the Spirit, my friends!
Press on ~ you are loved 💗