Spiritual Maturity “Self Control”

  • Pete Johnson
Merry Christmas ornament hanging from a tree


Galatians 5:22-23

 “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Last Saturday, my wife and I decorated the house for Christmas. I had to walk outside to the shed to gather the remnants from Christmas’ past for the task. I affectionately call it a task because it always is. To be truthful, I could manage the holidays with little to no decorations. Now, before you think of me as “un- Christmasy”, let me state that I love Christmas. I love the celebration of our Savior’s birth, and I like Christmas decorations. But I don’t get over-excited, as do others in my household when it is time to “trim the tree” and “hang the stockings.” I mean there are always college football games going on during this time, and I really like college football… uninterrupted if possible.

So back to the “task” of decorating for Christmas. It’s not that it is labor-intensive or life-threatening, yet there was that time she wanted lights hung from the edge of the icy roof! It’s more than that. It’s the “not really wanting” to participate, coupled with the untangling of things, searching for nativity pieces, being injured, even ever so slightly, by the sharp end of an ornament, and then the unrighteous wrath that is poured out on the poor defenseless decorative piece or anything or anyone nearby.

How does this relate to spiritual maturity, you ask?

Well, back to Saturday. The path that led to the shed was treacherous, nothing but ice. Yet, I was successful in my attempt to safely procure the necessary items for the task. Being a self-starter, I began to put the artificial tree together. This one is very user-friendly and has lights already built in, she’s a beauty! I decided that I would go ahead and plug in the tree so that we could enjoy the illuminated artificial conifer as we strategically dressed it out with an assortment of ornaments. I never saw it coming, that short wooden shelf on the wall, the one that holds pictures of my grandchildren, the one that I have looked upon for years. As I quickly bent down to plug into the power source, suddenly I heard a smash and then felt a sharp pain at the crown of my skull. It was almost like thunder and lightning back home; you hear the thunder then you see the flash.

It took a slight second for the pain to register, probably due to the excitement of decorating for Christmas, but it registered. Somehow, I had thrust my head into the edge of the shelf, full bend over speed! Several, several, years ago, I may have ripped the shelf off the wall, broken it half over my knee, and thrown my elbow into the sheet-rocked wall, with a forceful grunting sound. Then looked to blame someone for putting the shelf there!

Praise the Lord, that did not happen. My wife didn’t even know that the incident had occurred, until later when she saw the flesh wound I had received from the encounter. And we were able to enjoy decorating the tree together while watching the game!

Self-control is listed as a fruit of the spirit. Peter also mentions self-control as part of the believer’s sanctification in 2 Peter 1:5.

Self-control goes contrary to our flesh. We want to control others, as well as circumstances, and when that doesn’t happen, ensuing conflict arises.

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.” (James 4:1-2a)

Self-control is not a fruit of the believer’s sanctification that just automatically happens, like any fruit it must be intentionally and regularly cultivated through the power of the Holy Spirit.

For the believer, there is no excuse for the lack of self-control. We are called to “supplement” our faith in Christ with our pursuit of holiness- our sanctification- to be effective and fruitful followers of Christ.

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.  2 Peter 1: 5-10

Allow the Holy Spirit to continue the sanctifying work within you this holiday season.

Merry Christmas! (and watch out for the obstacles in your path!)