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If there was a spiritual discipline I need more of than any other, it is self-control.
In fact, I’d say that self-control is the root of all other spiritual fruit. Without it, you can’t harvest any of the others.
Perhaps that is why it’s mentioned last in the list of spiritual fruit shown in Galatians 5:22-23:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
It’s hard to enjoy love, joy and peace when your tongue is aflame and ranting about something.
It’s harder to demonstrate goodness, faithfulness and gentleness without self-control to put the needs of others before your own.
It’s impossible to beat an addiction or harmful character trait without self-control.
But, how do we build self-control?
Blogger David Qaoud offers some advice at www.gospelrelevance.com.
He identifies four ways to grow in self-control. They are:
- Understand your identity in Christ
- Keep in step with the Holy Spirit
- Remember the right things
- Get satisfied with Jesus
Those are great ideas. I’d also add these:
5. Remember to put on your spiritual armor
Ephesians 6:13-17 gives us a whole bunch of tools we can use to fight battles on the spiritual level.
The belt of truth is especially important. Like the belt of a soldier or police officer, it holds all sorts of other tools. It also helps us guys keep our pants from falling down, which could lead to embarrassment or regret.
The shield of faith is good to remember because Paul tells us to use it to extinguish Satan’s flaming arrows (lies). But even if one of his lies manages to slip by, the breastplate of righteousness protects your heart.
6. Avoidance beats resistance every time
If there are certain sins or habits that seem to keep you trapped, the best way to get out of the trap is not to go near it in the first place.
I saw this cute video the other day and it reminded me how difficult it is to resist while staring at temptation.
When you resist, you can only do it for so long on your own power. Eventually you get exhausted and when you’re weak, you’re susceptible.
If you’re trying to give up smoking, a bar is not the best place to hang out with friends. If you’re trying to lose weight, stopping at the gas station that sells donuts in the morning makes it harder to resist.
If you’re trying to give up porn, avoiding certain TV shows will be helpful in preventing your mind from being enticed away.
If you’re trying to get out of debt, signing up for email alerts about sales is probably not a good idea.
I agree with David that self-control is one of the biggest indicators of Christian character. Without it, you’ll eventually ruin your life and legacy.