Posted in theology

Guess which fruit of the Spirit is little spoken of and hardest to practice?

By Elizabeth Prata

You get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit!

People of an age know this saying. It used to be said quite often. In some small pockets, it still is.

It was a time when parents were the boss and the kids were supposed to gratefully and quietly receive whatever it is that was being handed out. No asking for something different. No demanding ‘I want it now’. No waiting till a more convenient time for them. It was eat this/do this now or forgo it totally.

I blame Burger King’s “Have it your way“. (Just kidding, but let’s take a look as a metaphorical example).

For 40 years Burger King has been touting that you don’t need to eat cookie cutter meals without substitutions, taking what’s presented as is (take THAT, McDonald’s) but you can mix and match to your liking. After 40 years BK decided that they weren’t only going to let you know that you can have it your way, but you can “BE your way”. In other words, create your own reality. All so that customers can make an emotional connection with the fast food company and their product. Sometimes I wonder about ad people…:)

Fernando Machado, Burger King’s senior vice president of global brand management, explained.

Burger King says in a statement that the new motto is intended to remind people that they can and should live how they want anytime. It’s ok to not be perfect … Self-expression is most important … By contrast, he said, “Be Your Way” is about making a connection with a person’s greater lifestyle. … champion individuality…

And so it continues.

‘Have it your way’ is the embedded motto of a generation. That’s fine, ad people can devise jingles and slogans all they want. The generation they’re aiming at with their message are constantly barraged with societal claims to individuality and instant gratification, so be it. It shouldn’t affect Christians. Until it does.

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. (Prov. 25:28).

When a child of the millennium converts, he has to dispense with the cultural baggage he’s accumulated, here in the West anyway. They are a new creation and must unlearn the cultural mandates of self-indulgence and instant gratification. The child who won’t take no for an answer in the grocery aisle. The teen who demands a phone upgrade. The young man dilly-dallying in college. The young adults putting off marriage and children because they need more “me time.” All for the aim of gratifying desires and indulging lusts.

Have you noticed the little-talked about mandate in the Bible about self-control? Its silence in preaching and discussion is out of proportion to the number of times we’re told to practice it. I think we do need to talk about self-control more.

Galatians 5:22-23, 2 Peter 1:5-7, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 speaks of self-control in the following particular sense. Discipline and self-control are important. I’ll lay the foundation of what self-control is before getting to why it’s critical to develop it.

In the Greek according to Strong’s, the word self-control as it is used in the above 3 verses, it’s “egkráteia (“self-control, Spirit-control”) can only be accomplished by the power of the Lord. Accordingly, 1466 /egkráteia (“true mastery from within”) is explicitly called a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:23).”

Today we will examine the fruit of self-control (Gal. 5:23). Basically, to have self-control means that we behave in a manner appropriate to the given situation. It means we defer when it is appropriate to defer. It means we speak when we need to speak. It means that we control our tempers and do not blow up every time things do not go our way. It means that we ignore the minor mistakes of others instead of trying to prove that we are always right.

Exercising self-control often means that we put other people before ourselves. It often involves putting the good of a group ahead of the good of an individual. Source

Since we know what self-control means, why is it important to cultivate it? Aside from the biblical mandate that says we must, that is.

Because self-control leads to self-denial. We are supposed to pick up our cross and deny ourselves. How can we deny ourselves if we can’t control ourselves?

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

If we are constantly indulging every whim, we won’t have developed the fortitude to deny ourselves on behalf of another person’s good. If we can’t control our tongue, for example, and display some restraint with what we want to say, we tarnish our witness before the unsaved. Even more so, in this age of self-expression and instantly fulfilled desires, a sacrificial, unselfish love will stand out like a beacon.

Here are some resources on developing self-control-

What does the Bible say about self-discipline?

Self-Control

Learning Self-Discipline

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