We begin in prayer:
Loving Heavenly Father, you have created us in your image. We thank you for this. As you created us in your image, you encourage us to yearn for the Fruit of the Spirit, including to have self-control. Please help us with self-control in all the circumstances that we face in life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Read Galatians 5:22,23. Did anything strike you?
Each attribute of the Fruit of Spirit are characteristics or attributes of God. We are to yearn for these attributes ourselves. Sometimes these attributes will be easy and sometimes they will be hard to do. Yet the Holy Spirit will continue to nurture us in the Fruit if the Spirit as we are drawn closer to God.
As we begin the final study on the Fruit of the Spirit, describe what “self-control” looks like? What behaviours do you associate with it?
If you were to look in a secular Thesaurus the other words that can be associated with “self-control” are: self-discipline, discipline, willpower, restraint, self-will, and strength of mind. The Oxford Dictionary defines self-control as “the ability to control oneself, in particular one’s emotions and desires or the expression of them in one’s behaviour, especially in difficult situations”. Self-control (or lack thereof) is often easy to recognise in the physical disciplines of eating, drinking, or exercising. We might also discern it in mental/emotional disciplines such as controlling our anger, our lust, or our tongue.
Is self-control easy or hard? In what areas of your life do you struggle with self-control?
But sometimes it’s less obvious. Sometimes it looks like a long-term lack of motivation…or spending too much time in front of a TV, phone screen, or game console.
Whatever the type of self-control, it seems obvious that self-control is an important attribute for Christians to have. It’s a part of the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23).
In the NIV Bible “self-control” is mentioned 14 times and 19 times in the ESV.Self-control is shown by many characters within the Bible. Paul reminds us that what is written in the Bible was written for our benefit and teaching (Romans 15:4). Yet, we will only look at three people today.The first is King David. There were times he practised good self-control and there were other times where he should have known better.
Read 1 Samuel 24.
What did you notice as you heard this being read out?
This chapter is often called “David spares Saul’s Life”.
The prelude to this story was that King Saul was hunting David down. David was on the run from King Saul, even though David was a son-in-law to King Saul.
With this point of view, how would you feel towards King Saul?
Why did David choose not to kill King Saul?
If you were in David’s shoes, what would have you done?
In this situation, David showed a huge amount of self-control. From a human point of view, he had every right to enact vengeance on King Saul for what he had done.
David knew that God had a plan, and he trusted God, even though he could have acted to protect himself and kill his enemy! David showed self-control because he knew God’s plan needed to be in God’s timing.
In what situations have you found it hard to have self-control?
Our second Bible character is Nehemiah.
What do you know of Nehemiah?
Throughout the book, Nehemiah had to show immense self-control.
He lived in exile. He was the cupbearer for the Persian king, a very trusted position. It was a position where you had to practise self-control and you were always on public display. As cupbearer, it was his job to taste the king’s wine, in case it was poisoned.
Although Nehemiah was far from his homeland, he is still concerned for his people and the city of Jerusalem. He asks for permission to go to Jerusalem and the king releases him from his position of authority so that he could go.
Nehemiah’s primary objective would be to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and to restore the city gates. Yet he faced immense opposition.
Read Nehemiah 4.
How does he show self-control in this situation?
Who were the enemies that he speaks of?
How does he rectify the situation?
Nehemiah showed self-control and didn’t fight back. Instead, he stationed some of his men to be guards while the others worked. Nehemiah knew that God would protect them. He acted calmly and with self-control.
Something that I have learnt throughout my life is that there are certain battles that I am called to fight and certain battles that I cannot fight, and I need to leave those fights alone. This is part of the self-control that God has instilled into me.
If you ever watch test cricket, you may think that it is a long boring game. Yet the batsman allows certain balls to go through to the keeper. They know that if they try to hit every cricket ball, they will get out.
Where have you had to practise self-control and let God take the lead?
Our last character is Jesus.
Read Matthew 4:1–11.
We all know this story, yet what struck you as you heard it being read?
Do you notice the self-control that Jesus showed?
He was under immense pressure, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He hadn’t eaten anything for forty days and forty nights. In anyone’s books that is a long time to go without food. As Matthew wrote for us, we have a Saviour who was tempted in every way that we are, yet never gave in. This is written so that we can believe in Jesus as Son of God.
While he was in the wilderness, Satan came to tempt him. Jesus showed self-control. Satan offered him control over the whole world, but Jesus knew that God’s kingdom would eventually be the only kingdom. Jesus is the perfect expression of all the fruits of the Spirit, including self-control. Jesus is the true source of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We can look toJesus and pray to become more like him in every way, including in our self-control.
Do you have any other thoughts?
Gracious Father, thank you for the fruit of self-control. Thank you that you have taught us through these Bible studies throughout the year. As we close these studies may you continually encourage and nurture us in the Fruit of the Spirit and strengthen us in self-control. In Jesus’ wonderful name. Amen