As we conclude our Winter Bible Study we embrace the goal of our efforts, two things we probably struggle the most with, gentleness and self-control. In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus used these two words to describe himself, “I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest for your souls.” As a final look at our passage we will explore Self-control. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Welcome back to the last installment of our Winter Bible Study. This week we see the ultimate goal of what we have been discussing, self-control. When we put it all together we realize that self-control is a very good character trait to possess, we are truly Christ-like. We have been looking at Galatians 5:19-23 and have focused on the last part of verse 22 and 23, one word at a time.
Galatians 5:22-23; But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
We have developed several resources that will help us be in control of ourselves; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness. Possessing those character traits will lead us to a self-controlled lifestyle. Self-control implies that we have different trains of thought running around in our heads and we have developed the awareness to select the one that is best for those around us. The one that will build the strongest and longest lasting relationships.
Self-Control implies we understand the Ten Commandments, remember those. If you need a refresher go to Exodus 20 and start reading from the first verse. Long about verse 17 you should have an idea what self-control looks like.
We don’t have to look far to see what self-control, or lack thereof, looks like in the world we live in. We see self-indulgence as a life goal. Many people, Christians included, live life for the soul purpose to satisfy their own desires without giving much consideration to others. We all can be guilty of having a life that does not reflect the priorities of God.
Sometimes we understand our difficulty with self-control and take steps to minimize the inability to keep ourselves from getting in serious trouble. Thompson Speedway is a track I have been going to for many years and it has seen its share of overflowing emotions. Several stories come to mind, but one displays the understanding of our inability to keep their emotions under check.
There was a team that separated itself from the other team along pit road. They traveled all the way down to the far end of pit road leaving a large gap between them and the next pit crew. That took some effort. The far end of pit road was usually empty or reserved for cars at the back of the field. I had to ask why.
The crew chief rubbed his chin and with a sparkle in his eye he said it is for two reasons. First, if someone wants to “discuss” something face to face we will see them coming. Second, by the time they get there they will be so tired that they won’t be able to physically get their point across.
Those are wise words to follow when you are struggling with self-control. Make sure there is a buffer between us and those who might be the victim of our inability to control ourselves. I am not saying this is an excuse not to develop self-control, but it is a good technique to have in place while we learn. We are not there yet and we need to be honest with ourselves, understanding who we are and how we can work on developing the character of God.
We begin the learning process when we identify where we are lacking. No matter what the character trait is, when we realize our lack of it we begin the journey to attain it. That is the second word Jesus used to describe His way, humble. Self-control shows an understanding of humility. Humility helps us realize that we are not there yet and need to learn things.
In the same way being gentle reveals we understand other people’s shortcomings, humility does the same for us as we understand our own. Being humble implies that we understand the magnitude of the transition. Being humble means we understand the road ahead is long. Being humble shows an understanding of failure, mistakes, and shortcomings. Being humble means we know the forgiveness of our Lord and Savior. Being humble reveals we know the presence of God in our lives.
Matthew 11:28-30; NLT; Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Self-control requires everything we talked about over the last several weeks. It is the culmination of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness. Self-control means our first thought isn’t about us, it is about the other person. It is a conscious decision to let their situation control our response. It is the most challenging thing we can engage in. Why? Because many times displaying self-control means we have to sacrifice. When we are willing to sacrifice our own wants, desires, needs and opinions, we have done well to imitate Christ.
Philippians 2:5-8; NLT; 5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
6 Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
8 he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
More than anything else, self-control demonstrates a willingness to put ourselves aside and serve others, letting others dictate to us and follow along displaying the fruits of the Spirit. When we become proficient at that, people will see a servant’s heart, the same heart our Lord and Savior has. They will see Jesus in us.