Fruit of the Spirit: SELF-CONTROL.

Galatians 5:22-23 - "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and SELF-CONTROL." Against such things that is no law."

I haven't a clue as to why the author chose these nine of all the virtues that could have been selected.  But these are the ones that made the cut.  I also don't know why of the nine, self-control was the last to be picked.  It certainly isn't because it's easier or lesser than those which proceed it.

It's easy to hear the world control and think of it in negative ways.  When we hear of a "control freak" our minds immediate conjure up someone who is uptight and obssessive about a certain way things should be, a particular hidden agenda that they expect to take place.  You don't often know it's there until things don't happen in accordance to their will.

Another term thrown around that has a negative connotation is someone who is "controlling".  This person is a mix of obsessive and oppressive.  They act bossy and pushy.  If they happen to be in a leadership position they are often using intimidation and manipulation to get you to do what they want.  They use their position to dominate and dictate, demanding you to perform certain duties to fulfill their despotic expectations.  If you've ever been around someone who uses control in these ways, then it wouldn't suprise me if the idea of control is seen exclusively as toxic and terminal.

But control is actually critical in life.  When you get around a person or place that is "out of control" you realize real fast how much you crave this quality.  When there is no plan or order, it doesn't matter what other great virtues may exist, you tend to withdraw.  Your heart has a roaming signal looking to connect to the tower, control central if you will.  When it can't seem to find that central nervous system, that infrastructure that holds everything together, it isn't long before it doesn't feel secure and safe in that relationship, that environment, that establishment.

I think that's why in the Bible the word self-control is used interchangeably with the word self-discipline.  I'm not talking about a person who is cautious and careful all the time, this word self-control is actually defined as poised or vigilance.  They are wide awake to their surroundings, self-aware without being self-conscious.  They bring order to chaos and de-escalate tension.  They are the non-anxious presence in the room and are often consulted when things seem overwhelming.  Why?  They transmit wisdom.

I think that's why the Wisdom Literature in the Bible constantly speaks of self-control.  You can't possess wisdom without mastering the art of guarding and guiding your life with intentiality. Living very deliberately.  It isn't the driving engine, it's the steering wheel.  It takes all the characteristics of one's life and orders them in such a way as to leverage them for maximum impact.  Without self-control there is no "ready, aim, fire".  There is only "".  Control aims the barrel at the bullseye. It gives vision to every virtue.  Purpose to every passion.

It holds you back when you're about to make a fatal mistep.  It sounds an alarm when you're overheating.  It snaps you awake when you're sleepwalking through life.  It shows you the difference between you passion and your passions.  It keeps you accountable when your felt needs are about to violate your known creeds. It seeks to add value to each virtue making sure life is invested instead of simply spent.  It wants you to live, not just exist.

Every one of our passions must accomplish a purpose, or it is useless.  Wisdom is always asking, "What's the point?" and is always saying, "Stay on point."  It doesn't want to waste any time 'beside the point' is poised and poignant.

I haven't always looked up to self-control.  In a world that values the shiny and sexy, self-control can seem like a real downer--the voice of reason--something that holds you back from "chasing your dreams" or "being true to yourself" or "following your heart"...really any number of the stupid slogans these days that can be nothing more than selfish ambitions and vain conceit leading you to the slaughterhouse of self-importance.  So many launch into life with misguided notions thinking adventure is unfettered spontaneity.  But most successful and entrepreneurial people have a plan and purpose, and even if it looks like they are just shooting from the hip, they probably aren't.

Jesus at first glance appears to be frolicking about without the foggiest clue as to where he's going to go next or what he's going to do next.  But we would be sadly mistaken if we think Jesus didn't have a solid itinerary for his 3 years of ministry.  He constantly was speaking in terms of planning.  "My time has not yet come..."  "I only do what my Father tells me to do..."  "I do what I see my Father doing..."  "I have come to seek and to save the lost..."  "I have come to do the will of him who sent me..."  His chose to do some things and chose not to do others.  He was constantly exercising control over his actions and emotions in every moment in order to leverage his life and optimize his impact. He lived a "sent" life.  His mastering of every moment was incredible.  Follow his life and you're watching poetry in motion.  He was meek, but I heard it said that meekness is "stength under control".  You see, control doesn't hold things hostage, it holds them together.

So when you hear the world self-control, think poise.  Precise Patterns that keep Passions Pointing toward their ultimate Purpose.

Self-control is the rebar of the Christian life.


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