“The fruit of the Spirit is…self-control” (Galatians 5:22 and 23)
Sitting on my porch swing and enjoying the warm, gentle touch of the springtime sunshine and breeze, I watched as a robin meticulously scanned my front yard for worms poking out of the ground. Suddenly, he stopped and noticed me on the swing. He hopped closer until it seemed he was close enough for comfort. We looked at each other for about five minutes before he tilted his head as if to question, then continued his hunt.
I agree with this robin: we humans are fickle creatures when observed closely. We are peaceful one minute and angry the next. We are simultaneously both friend and foe. Christians who have experienced the joy of new life with a new heart in sweet union with Jesus have died with Him and have risen with Him to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4-9). Yet, we are still plagued by our “flesh,” sin which still dwells in us and finds temptation attractive (Romans 7:17-20, 25). We already possess purity of eternal life (Hebrews 10:10), but we have not yet been perfected (Philippians3:12).
We are commanded to “strive to enter the narrow door” of the Kingdom (Luke 13:24). So, we have been gifted with the power of the Holy Spirit to control ourselves, and we bear this spiritual fruit to God’s glory. How? “I strive with all His energy that He powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:29). We become more Christ-like with Christ’s powerful work being done inside of us. It is His doing. Jesus instructs us His grace to desire Him who is greater than wrong desires settled for on earth (Titus 2:11-12). Like the robin’s scan for worms, we scan our hearts with the Bible and the Spirit for wrong desires.
Jesus instructs us, not as a killjoy, but that our joy may be full (John 15:11). We put those wrong desires to death (Colossians 3:5) by putting on the beauty of Christ-likeness we already possess but strive to obtain when Christ returns and perfects the work He begun (Colossians 3:12).
Holy God in heaven, we thank You for not treating us as our sins deserve. That in Christ alone we enjoy Your boundless grace. Lord, instruct our hearts in Your grace to strive to be like Christ, controlling our desires to enjoy You more than the plagues of our flesh and treasuring Jesus above all that Your joy may be in us and our joy increase daily until that day You complete the work You have begun. In Christ’s Name. Amen.