The Spirit’s Fruit: Self-Control

The Spirit’s Fruit: Self-Control

We have come to believe that we deserve to be happy and if our particular Bubble Tree makes us happy, well then, why should we plunge in headlong?[1]. So, perhaps the first thing we need to do is answer the question, why. In other words, why should we restrain ourselves? Proverbs 30:8-9 gives us the beginning of an answer.

As a believer, if I always entertained thoughts and engaged in deeds that are suitable to one who enjoys life in Christ, then self-control would not be an activity with which I would need to be concerned. However, undergoing regeneration does not mean that all my sinful thoughts and desires have been banished from the boundaries of my person. In this life there is an irreconcilable war waging within my members that won’t be fully and finally reconciled until my last day. I am a sinner still and therefore I must be occupied with controlling myself.  

A quick etymological search shows that control is likely made up of two words that mean something like against the wheel. The picture it creates is certainly apt.  In C. S. Lewis’s space adventure Perelandra, Ransom is transported to a planet of pure beauty. It was like a dream, he thought, this was the most “vivid dream I have ever had.” And then, there were the trees. Bubble Trees they were called. And when he touched one of them it burst on him and “drenched with what seemed (in that warm world) an ice-cold shower bath, and his nostrils filled with a sharp, shrill, exquisite scent that somehow brought to his mind the verse in Pope, “die of a rose in aromatic pain.” In other words, it was wonderful, and Ransom wanted more. But Ransom had always disliked those who encored at the opera – “that just spoils it” and now the principle had “far wider application.” In other words, Ransom practiced self-control.

Of course, Lewis is teaching us what he first learned from Paul. The Apostle was a man who knew how to abound and how to be brought low. He said in a verse often stripped of this context, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). 

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