You may have heard of the fruit of the Spirit. In Galatians 5:22-23, after describing the acts of flesh, Paul contrasts them with the fruit of the Spirit. This fruit is made up of 9 parts (or perhaps it’s 9 fruit) in either case they are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Now, just because Paul names self-control last definitely does not mean that it is least. In fact, during the holiday season this is one of the sourest fruits for many people.
Each Christmas Eve my dad and I ring the Salvation Army bell at his local Raley’s. In recent years we have been required to ring inside, which is hilarious because they have now rigged the bells to be much quieter. I call it the bell’s “inside voice.” This year we had to ring a couple weeks early because of my trip. Standing just inside the door of Raley’s I look out across the aisle of stuffing, potatoes, and frozen turkey, but before my eye can reach the foods of Christmas feast they are set on the rather large display of hard alcohol, beer and wine. I turn to my dad and say, “Wow! It must be difficult for alcoholics to go into stores like this during the holidays.” After making that statement I thought of all the other temptations that haunt us at this wonderful time of year. As we are welcoming in our newborn king, we are also over-indulging in food, drink and shopping. I doubt the baby Jesus would approve of our gluttony.
One thing that is not to be misunderstood in this verse is God is not saying we need to do it alone. Ironically self-control in this passage is really saying “give God control.” For an addict it can be nearly impossible to control one’s self, but through the Spirit we can all achieve self-control. It’s a matter of saying, “Hey God, I can’t do this. I need your help,” and like a perfect Father He will sweep you up from the “miry clay” of over-indulgence and plant your feet on solid ground.
If you are struggling with self-control as Him to help. You are never alone in your struggle.