But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23 NLT
Well, here we are! As I write this piece, we in the United States are waiting the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. Right now, even in this unprecedented time, things appear to be quiet and people are showing restraint regarding the possible outcome. It feels though like the “quiet before the storm.”
In light of the chaotic atmosphere surrounding this particular election, across our country, for the first time that I can remember, businesses have boarded up their doors and windows in case the outcome of the election causes unrest in the country. In other words, these businesses are sadly preparing for some people to lose all control if their candidate does not win. And that hurts my heart.
The American people are divided, as we normally are during an election because that’s how democracy works. As citizens, we do not all agree on everything and we express that disagreement at the polls. But this year we are deeply, passionately divided. And for that reason, all Christians need to be in deep prayer today.
The fact is that for most of us, control is important. We do not like feeling out of control whether it comes down to situations we put ourselves in or situations we simply find ourselves in. In fact, having no control is downright scary.
Control is certainly not something we hand over easily, which is why some people do not want to buy into this “Jesus thing” we talk about. If they do, it means they are giving up control over their lives and for some people, that is a deal breaker.
But we also fool ourselves into believing we have more control than we think. Let there be no room for doubt, in ALL things God is ultimately in control. However, within our being we are given free will. Free will gives us the power to make decisions that can forever change the course of our life. And within that sphere of our being, we must develop self-control.
Spoiler alert: We are the only person we can control, and that must be our focus.
I can think of no better example in the Bible of someone giving in to his/her own selfish ambition and loosing self-control than Sampson. You can read his entire story in Judges 13-16.
Sampson, if you recall, was a man of incredible physical strength. At birth, he was dedicated to the Lord by his parents and was to follow the restrictions of Nazirite living, which included no drinking, no touching dead things, and never cutting his hair. All he had to do is live by this Nazirite vow and he would be on track to be a great man of God.
But, then entered a woman and Sampson started to lose control.
Though we know in the end of Sampson story that it was one particular woman, Delilah, that would ultimately cause him to lose all control, Sampson had a pattern of letting his lust for women get him into trouble. If you read his story carefully, Delilah was not the first woman to cause Sampson to show poor judgment.
Long story short, Sampson from birth had so much ahead of him. He was chosen by God, he was given that incredible physical strength, and he became one of the Israelite judges of his time. Blessing, strength, and position –I would say he had it all …he had everything BUT self-control. Ultimately, his lack of restraint would cost him everything. Though he redeemed himself at the end, he had led a reckless life and wasted an incredible gift that he had been given.
In comparison, let us look at a moment in Jesus’ life, where He models for us the importance of self-control.
Though Jesus demonstrated tremendous self-control during His entire walk here on earth, at no other time than possibly His crucifixion was it more evident than during His forty days and nights in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11).
In this time of isolation, He fasted. After He had fasted, the devil would come to Him at His weakest point to tempt Him into turning from the mission God had sent Him on.
First the devil tempted Jesus with the thought of relieving His physical discomfort of hunger (lust of the flesh). Then the devil attempted to get Jesus to elevate Himself above God (pride of life). Lastly, the devil offered to hand over the earth to Jesus if Jesus would worship him (lust of the eye).
In all three instances, Jesus quoted scripture back to the devil to refute the temptation. Therein lies our lesson in self-control. When we rely on God and get intimate with His word, the Holy Spirit can sow scripture deep within us so that we can activate its power when needed. Hebrews 4:12 tells us:
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. NLT
Self-control comes only from deep within. If we have made no deposits of God’s Word into the well of our soul, we have nothing to draw from when the temptation to lose control comes.
Today, allow the Holy Spirit to help you begin filling that space with the Word of God so that your ability to demonstrate self-control strengthens. If you do, those things that entice you now will quickly lose their luster.
Founder, Transforming Love Ministries
Creator, She Steps Forward Women’s Conference
For more of Elaine’s story, you can find Love Echoed Back: I Cried Out; He Answered on amazon.com.
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.