Like a city breached, without walls, is one who lacks self-control. (Proverbs 25:28)
The final Fruit of the Spirit is self-control. And there are three important things to remember as we approach the end of this series.
First, the Greek word for self-control speaks of self-mastery. It carries with it the idea that we are to work towards mastering our minds and bodies so as to not give into sinning. There is a bit of a problem here, though, since we are human and we are always going to sin. However, learning to master our thoughts and desires over time is an extremely helpful practice toward growing evermore into the image of Christ.
Second, the Greek word for self-control also speaks of self-restraint. While self-mastery has to do with how we care for ourselves, self-restraint also adds the question of how we treat others. Remember that love will never force its own will. As our God is love, so are we called to be with one another (and all God’s children). In other words, restraining our need to force what we want on others is key to living the Christian faith.
And finally, this passage from Proverbs adds a third aspect to the meaning of self-control. If we have no boundaries, we will never be able to have self-control. If we do not care for ourselves, we will never be able to care for others. Learning to set healthy perimeters around our actions, our words, and our hearts – ones that equip us to do appropriate self-care – is the only way we will ever be able to grow into the fullness of our walk with Christ.
Though all the Fruit of the Spirit have raised important new concepts, this final piece offers a remarkably dynamic look at how we approach the Christian life. On the one hand, learning self-mastery will aid us in letting go of those things that might control us. On the other, studying our actions and reactions towards others will better prepare us to respond in love in all things. And finally, at the heart of the matter, reviewing our boundaries will empower us to care for ourselves well so that we can be of greater service to others. For we are never meant to work ourselves to death, nor to be a doormat.
So, my friends, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.
Now go and do likewise.