When my son was younger one of the things he struggled with the most was self control.
He loved people. And he loved to entertain them.
There was no lengths he wouldn’t go, to provide entertainment to a crowd (including doing a cannonball at his baptism and nearly landing on the pastor’s wife).
Yes, that actually happened.
I’m happy to say that he has grown in the area of self control since 3rd grade.
This is a funny example of the lack of self control (at least now), but as we grow and develop as Christians, the reality of how hard it is to maintain self control can be daunting.
Whether it’s a bad habit, a sin, a fleshly desire or something as simple as a response, learning self control is not something that’s easily attained just by sheer will.
What is the Definition of Self Control?
The word nerd in me had to look up the meaning. Digging into definitions allows us to get a clear grasp on what the Bible refers to as we study scriptures.
Here are the two definitions I found:
World definition (Google): the ability to control oneself.
Biblical definition (Vine’s Expository): controlling the power of the will under the operation of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 ESV
How do we get self control?
As I studied the definitions of self control I was intrigued by the similarities I found in the two meanings.
They were almost identical in wording, except for a few small, but important, words added to the end. If we look at the Vine’s Expository definition, we see this phrase attached:
under the operation of the Spirit.
The world tells us that it is our job to gain self control.
It screams at us to correct our behavior and produce the fruit of self control without the power we need to attain it.
You see, true self control requires a guidance from the Holy Spirit.
As a fruit of the Spirit, self control is grown by an intimate time spent with God. The more we connect with Him and spend time in His presence, the more self control we have.
The Fruit of Self Control
One resource I love to use when digging into word studies is the Webster 1828 Dictionary.
However, when I looked up the word self control, it returned no results.
Going back to the original context of Galatians 5:22-23, I realized why. In the King James Version, the word used for self control is actually temperance.
What is temperance?
Join me over at My Messy Desk to find out what I learned about the true definition of self control and how we can obtain it!
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Are you (or your children) struggling with self control? Here’s a free printable of scriptures to memorize on self control. Simply click on the link below to download.
**I find writing them down on notecards helps me (and my children) to memorize scriptures.**