Self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit because of the Spirit’s work in us. We don’t become a Christian on our own and we cannot grow on our own. Every good thing we do is the fruit of the Spirit’s work in our lives. For a person who has prided herself on being “Miss Independent” most of her life, this has been a hard lesson to learn. My independence has served me well in matters of the world but less so in matters of the heart.
Self-control, or temperance, is, of course, the ability to control oneself. It involves moderation, constraint, and the ability to say “no” to our baser desires and fleshly lusts.
One of the proofs of God’s working in our lives is the ability to control our own thoughts, words, and actions. It’s not that we are naturally weak-willed. But our fallen nature is under the influence of sin. The Bible calls it being a slave to sin (Romans 6:6). I recently heard a definition of sin as “filling a legitimate need through illegitimate means.” Without the power of the Holy Spirit, we are incapable of knowing and choosing how best to meet our needs. Even if we knew what would be best, such as not smoking or overeating, another need, like comfort, would take precedence and enslave us again.
When we are saved by Christ’s sacrifice, we are free, including being free from sin. As the Spirit gives us self-control, we can refuse sin. We need this self-control because the outside world and internal forces still attack. Like a vulnerable city, we must have defenses like prayer, silence, and reading God’s word. We don’t exhibit self-control if we continually dally with that which would enslave us.
Self-control naturally leads to perseverance as we value the long-term good instead of the instant gratification of the world. Self-control is a gift that frees us. It frees us to enjoy the benefits of a healthy body. It frees us to rest in the security of good stewardship. It frees us from a guilty conscience. Self-control restricts the indulgence of our foolish desires, and we find the liberty to love and live as we were meant to. Returning to the beauty of our innocence and purity of heart.
Purity prepares the soul for love, and love confirms the soul in purity.St. John Henry Newman
Thank you Lord for leading me to Your goodness, day by day.