Which of the fruits of the Spirit do you struggle with most?
I want to say that I struggle the most with self control. When looking at the list of sins that most often trip me up, they are made up primarily of lust of the eyes & lust of the flesh: gluttony, pornography, smoking weed, fantastical thoughts, etc. Ones that I say that I’ve submitted to God’s control and the accountability of others – but I choose to try to manage them within my own strength: strength that I know I don’t have.
But herein lies my dilemma: in a way, I kinda like my lack of self control. I like the way I act before I think sometimes, because in the past, it’s led to some pretty cool stories. God has worked in the midst of my sinful decisions.
And in my own teeny little mind, I reason that self control directly opposes another part of my personality that I consider to be a strength: my faith. I have this stigma that the person with self control is the person who always follows the rules & never takes any big leaps of faith: someone who’s afraid to believe God for big things. Someone who fails to see just how FREE they are.
This is wrong for 2 reasons:
First, because Freedom in Christ is a gift to be thankful for, and exercising self-control is a form of freedom, not a type of bondage. You don’t have to do what you feel like doing. You’re free to do what you know is wise.
Secondly, because God is consistent, all fruits of the spirit and characteristics of Jesus mutually coexist. My lack of self control doesn’t lead to a seemingly great faith. One fruit doesn’t grow at the expense of another – rather, they build each other up. They depend upon each other to thrive. That being said, at what point does my confidence in God – a seemingly good thing – translate into self control?
I think the key word here is “MY”. If my confidence is in MY confidence, then I’ve taken God out of the equation. And if God is out of the equation, then so is love, so is peace, so is patience and goodness and faithfulness and, you guessed it, self control.
As Proverbs 25:28 states, “Like a city who’s walls are broken through is a person who lacks self control.”
If I was a city, what – or who- would my walls be made of? Well, God of course. God would be my walls. He is my refuge and strength and my defender. I hide behind Him. But God’s walls cannot be broken. If a wall is broken through, then that wall was never God to begin with. That city is not defended by God, has no confidence in God, and has no self control. Self control is birthed from a confidence in God’s power, not in my own.
Confidence in God? Hm. That kinda sounds like Faith to me.
So, I think it’s still safe to say self control…but not because every now and then I get stoned and eat a big bowl of pasta with my friends from college, or because sometimes, late at night, I let my mind fantasize about future nights with my husband – although, those are both not good either. I also don’t struggle with self control because it puts limitations to my faith in God, as Ive tried to convince myself time and time again.
I struggle with self control because I struggle with pride – and self control is the opposite of pride. Self control is really submitting to God’s control, hiding behind His walls, His protection, and His rules – while pride is grasping onto our own power, authority, and reasoning – which wasn’t ever really mine to begin with.