Thinking About Self-Control
Thanksgiving is powerful - the act, that is, that the holiday emphasizes. Ironically, in America, the holiday, however, has become more about the very thing thanksgiving is meant to penetrate and kill - self-centered indulgence. I don’t mean don’t enjoy the pumpkin pie - I myself like a little pumpkin pie with my Cool Whip. But ironically, it is only through the act of thanksgiving that we can enjoy Thanksgiving - or any other pleasure - to the fullest.
Some things are just wrong, but many other wrong things are good things that have spoiled within us. Paul, in Ephesians 5: “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” (Eph. 5:4) In the context, we surmise that the crude joking involves sex - “locker room talk” - a good thing (sex) that has spoiled within the heart of the person, and comes out as crude joking (Jesus: “out of the heart the mouth speaks”). But then Paul applies this to any good thing - any covetousness, or idolatry - when any good thing becomes a “god” thing (and then quickly becomes a bad thing). Paul’s big point: thanksgiving powerfully fights sexual immorality, crass language, greedy eating, impure book reading, idolizing our children and family - name the idol, thanksgiving fights powerfully for us.
From what well do we draw up this thanksgiving? It was helpful for me recently to think about the “fruit of the Spirit” passage, in Galatians 5:22: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Some thoughts:
- I am helped by considering how God lives each of those words toward me, through Christ. I encourage you to take a few moments, and do the same.
- This produces in me an uncontrived, sweet thankfulness, by the Spirit, in my Father. Because I’m seeing Him clearly.
- Then, by seeing Him, I bear a little more of a family resemblance. Today “patience” struck me - how patient He has been with me. Then I am drawn to further patience.
- But the fruit of Spirit grows together - one fruit, with many forms. What fruit might grow, alongside patience? Yep, you guessed it: self-control.
-The root of all growth, therefore, is the Spirit. As we commune with God through Him, He produces fruit - the fruit of the Spirit.
- Thus we need not measure the size of our fruit, but instead cling to God - faith trusts the Spirit to produce fruit. He will do it!