The definition of self-control is: “the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions.” What a powerful virtue. All the virtues of the Holy Spirit, like love, joy, and peace play important roles in our lives, but we can’t overlook self-control even though it falls at the end of the Fruit of the Spirit. Like the song says, “What the world needs now is love sweet love,” but how different would our world be if we all had Holy Spirit manifested self-control?
Imagine driving down the busiest street in your city with all drivers filled with Holy Spirit self-control. That might be a peaceful drive home! Imagine yourself driving during rush hour filled with self-control. How different would your drive be?
I needed this Fruit of the Spirit just the other day when I had to slam on my brakes inside a traffic circle to prevent an accident. A high school girl did not yield as I drove through. I ((laid)) on my horn. Honestly, I wanted to chase her home with my car and tell her how dangerous that was, but self-control kicked in and I slowed down.
Where I Need Self-Control
- Eating for Comfort:
Usually, I don’t need self-control to hold back road rage, but it happens occasionally. Usually my need for self-control raises its head in the food department. Anybody? You know those days when you really deserve that cookies and cream milk-shake or that caramel-crunch iced coffee from Starbucks? These aren’t terrible, but they’re not good for me either. I often soothe my emotions with food. I know I’m not alone. A few years ago I wrote an article on steps to take when you need food control. These were the steps:
The first thing we think of when it comes to self-control is often food, but self-control is needed in so many other areas. One of them is judgment.
- Taking offense: I don’t think of myself as a judgmental person, but recently, I have struggled with making knee jerk judgments and taking offense. (I hate confessing that to you.) I know self-control in this area would really help me keep perspective and not take everything personally. God whispered to a friend of mine one day, “It’s not personal; it’s personality.” That is so good, isn’t it?
If I can remember that personality is often the culprit when I’m offended or hurt, I would be much more able to respond graciously rather than boiling on the inside. This may happen to you while scrolling through Social media. This is a hot button for many of us. That being said, my cell phone is another area where I could use self-control.
- Scrolling on my phone: I really didn’t mean to make this an Andy’s confession blog, but I’m just keeping it real and letting you know you’re not alone. Lately my obsession has been Zillow. My grandbabies live too far away, and well, a girl can dream to live next door to them. But it’s not just Zillow; it’s YouTube and Instagram and Facebook, and all the things that can keep us on our phones for hours. Self-control seems so far away. But I’ve found a solution. The best way to stay off my phone is to charge it away from my bedside. Sometimes we need to remove the temptation.
Scriptures to Nurture Self-Control
Though it’s great to stay away from whatever tempts your self-control, that’s not always possible. That is why we need Holy Spirit to produce what our human heart can’t. One way His Spirit fills and changes us is by the power of His Word. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, reading and studying our Bibles does not get us into heaven, it gets heaven into us.
As I prepared the 31 day reading plan on Self-Control, guess what happened. Ya’ll, the very FIRST scripture spoke directly to one of my offenses. Remember how I told you I’ve been struggling with self-control in the area of people hurting my feelings? I have to share with you the first scripture in this reading plan:
Refrain from anger and turn from (leave behind) wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed (or cut off,)
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.Psalm 37: 8-9 (addition mine)
At first glance, this many not seem to relate, but when I did some digging, I couldn’t believe how the Lord was speaking to me. Here’s the prompt for this scripture. It explains how it applied to my lack of self-control.
Here’s the prompt:
The Hebrew word for “wrath” can also be defined as: anger, rage, and indignation. Indignation is: anger or annoyance provoked by what is perceived as unfair treatment. The Word just took a scalpel to my human heart. I never thought I dealt with indignation, but its definition showed me otherwise. If you’ve been upset lately, almost to the point of boiling over, let the Lord soothe the wound and restore your hope and focus on the promises of God. Write down the unfair treatment you’ve perceived, ask the Lord’s forgiveness for your anger or indignation, and pray for His Spirit to fill you with hope of His better plans and self-control next time.Day 1- Self-Control Reading Plan
Most of my self-control issues these days deal with adults, but that’s not always been the case. You might notice, that my struggles with self-control don’t mention children, but that’s because I’m a grandma and can give the children back and go home when their parents arrive. However, when I was a stay-at-home mom with three littles, Galatians 5:22-23 was often recited throughout the day. By the time I got to “self-control,” I had some. Parenting is hard!
I really wanted self-control as a parent, that’s why I prayed for it and used scripture to help me. Self-control is one of the Fruit of the Spirit that involves our participation–our effort. I love what Christina writes on her blog, Gentle Christian Parenting:
Spiritual self-control cannot happen without the Holy Spirit. You need to depend on him and draw upon the power and strength you have been given in Christ through the Holy Spirit in order to practice self-control well. So really, as people of faith, we might do better to call it “With the help of the Holy-Spirit control.” But there’s another important aspect of self-control in the bible. We are told to choose self-control in the bible. It is both Holy Spirit empowered and by our own choice.Gentle Christian Parenting
Is it possible to choose self-control? That’s a really good question, and I think the answer is yes. But the choice is only possible and healthy with the empowerment of Holy Spirit. We are all a work in progress. All hand-made by the creator with different personalities and gifts. The way we think affects our reactions, and that means what we put into our minds will affect our emotions. If we’re constantly listening to others’ negative reactions (like on social media) it will rub off, and it won’t help our restraint.
Soak in the truth of God’s Word and let it affect your thoughts. We may struggle choosing self-control, but it is always possible to choose filling our mind daily with God’s truth.
31 Scriptures on Self-Control
Join me for thirty-one days of filling our minds and hearts with what God says about this Fruit of the Spirit. You can grab the list on the printable above, or you can print the ten page reading plan with the verses, prompts, and lines to journal your answers. Here’s an example of two days:
Day 2: Proverbs 14:29
Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.
Prompt: This verse gives us the secret to patience and self-control. Do you see it? I think the answer is understanding. When we “understand” someone or at least attempt to, it can help us be kinder and slower to react angrily. I hateeeeee it when I’m quick to get upset. From now on, I’m going to try to ask the Lord to help me understand before I react. Write a prayer for understanding in the situation you most often lose your cool.
Day 3: James 1: 19-21
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
Prompt: I’ve read this scripture over and over today trying to figure out the key. How does anger and a quick temper relate to “moral filth and evil?” After about the fifth attempt, the word “humbly” stood out. This word is actually prautes which is the fruit of the spirit of gentleness we studied last month. It’s humble, quiet strength under pressure. Self-control starts with humility. And humility combined with God’s word makes us whole. Whole, healed hearts are self-controlled. Write a prayer for greater, godly humility.
Do More than Read the Verses
I hope you’ll consider taking time each day to answer the prompts. Reading the Word is good, but it’s even better when we take the time to slow down and journal our thoughts about it. Dig deep. Jesus has made the way for us to be full of love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control, but we must slow down and spend time with Him in His word to appropriate these virtues. Just like the girl in the traffic circle who needed to yield, so we need to yield to the Holy Spirit before we cause a huge mess in a moment of no self-control. We aren’t perfect, but we know Someone who is.
Come on over!
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