When we talk about self-control, we usually end up referring to a person’s will-power. I’m happy to say that your will-power has nothing to do with this fruit. The Holy Spirit wants to produce something in you that’s way beyond your ability.
The Greek word that’s translated as self-control, in speaking of the fruit, is a word that literally means an inner strength. It’s not about your flesh trying to control itself from the outside. True change only takes place when we strengthen the inner man.
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
1 Corinthians 9:25
The word for having the fruit of self-control is translated goes into strict training in this verse. We all have an inner drive to accomplish something with our lives. It doesn’t matter whether the purpose is good or not, all of us are driven people.
When we come to Christ, our goal should be to please Him and complete His assignment for our lives. That may or may not be very high on our list of drives. Spending time with the Holy Spirit allows Him to increase the drive to fulfill our destiny in Christ.
That’s why will-power has nothing to do with it. An athlete’s drive to win the Olympics will override any desire to pig-out on chocolate. The greater my desire for the finish line, the more self-control I can exercise.
As the Holy Spirit increases our desire to defeat the enemy, our inner strength to stay on course grows as well. Yes, it’s victory in the spiritual battle that’s the ultimate prize for us.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
This verse has a lot to say to us. It uses three different words for power. First, be strong in the Lord means to let Him endue you with His power.
Then Paul says that this power will strengthen us (the fruit) with God’s ability. Wow! That’s a mouthful. But the bottom line is that God doesn’t want us relying on our own will-power to serve Him. By the power of the Spirit, He wants to bring our inner strength up to the level of His ability.
And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance…
This verse says it all. The only way to live a life worthy of the Lord, please Him in every way, and bear fruit is to be strengthened with all power by the Lord’s might.
Stop trying to fight your battle against sin on your own. Let the Holy Spirit work His power in you. With the Lord’s ability, you can overcome any obstacle.
Spend time in the Spirit and let the Lord cultivate the fruit of self-control in you. It’s well worth the spiritual investment.
Question: What was a recent time that you saw God’s self-control operating through you?
© Nick Zaccardi 2017