The Fruit of the Spirit: Self-control

The Fruit of the Spirit: Self-control

Alright, self-control. Something that we definitely all need at times. For me, I need it around chocolate. I'm just being real. I also need it in those times when I have to bite my tongue. If I'm being honest, I don't really like people. I love people (by the grace of God), but I definitely don't always like them. So yeah, I need self-control fairly often.

When I thought of this particular fruit of the Spirit in relation to Jesus, the first example that came to my mind was when He was tempted by Satan in the desert after being baptized by John the Baptist. This story is told in the Bible three times, twice in detail (Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13) and once in brief mention (Mark 1:12-13).

'And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone.'" And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, "To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours." And Jesus answered him, "It is written, "'You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'" And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, "'He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,' and "'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" And Jesus answered him, "It is said, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'" And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.' (ESV)
Luke 4:1-13

I chose the passage in Luke because of its ending. It shows that Jesus had so much self-control against the devil's temptation that the devil ran out of ideas... When he ended every temptation he could think of, he left Jesus alone for a while. I love it for two reasons: 1) clearly Jesus had crazy self-control, and 2) we're shown that if we resist the devil enough, he will eventually give up!

I do also want to say that the passages in Matthew and Mark mention something that this passage in Luke doesn't. They say that the angels ministered to Jesus. I love that, too. We're not alone when we're resisting temptation and fighting the devil, people! God is with us, and He sent His angels to minister to Jesus when He went through the same thing. How cool is that!?

Anyway, the whole point of giving an example of Jesus using self-control is so that we can see how He did it, so we can bear this fruit of the Spirit. So, how did He do it? Well, it's right there in the story. Every time the devil tempted Him and tried to manipulate Him, Jesus fell back on truth, on what He knew. He fought back with the words of the Lord. When I read it, I get the vibe that Jesus spoke the words not only to oppose the devil, but also to empower Himself through the words in order to resist temptation. It's fairly simple. When we're tempted by the things of this world, or when we just need a little self-control so that we can be the best versions of ourselves that we can be, all we need to do is rest in truth. Focus on what God's word says and remind yourself of it, over and over again if need be. Living in the truth and being conscious of it will give us the strength to practice self-control. The truth is greater than anything we'll ever be tempted with, and sometimes we just need to remind ourselves (and the devil) of the truth so we can keep on fighting, just as Jesus did.