by Brandy Webb
Do you ever have one of those days that causes you to just wish you could have a do-over? A rewind button or a pause button that allowed you to react the way you know you should have, but you didn’t?
I can’t count how many times I’ve wished I could. Like those moments when I snap at my children for the slightest things or when my voice goes up some decibels. I know that I’m supposed to exhibit self-control. I know that “a gentle answer turns away wrath” and “a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov 15:1). But, when I let my emotions rule instead of God’s Spirit, I do not act the way I should.
Self-control is the last fruit listed in Galatians 5:23. I wonder if it is listed last because you need all the others in order to have self-control. The ability to love our God helps us to “renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives” (Titus 2:11-14). The ability to love others helps us to esteem them better than ourselves (Phil 2:3), thus not insisting on our own way (1 Cor 13:5), the ability to keep our selfishness under control.
I also believe that joy also aids in self-control. People who are joyful don’t let circumstances around them ruin their attitudes. People who are joyful “look on the bright side of life” more than the negative, which aids in keeping emotions under control.
It is obvious that peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and gentleness help blossom self-control. I know this from experience. On days that I am peaceful, I am much more patient, kind, good, and gentle to everyone, and those days I don’t have my emotional explosions. Self-control is in check on those days.
Faithfulness, for me, really helps my self-control when I am waiting for answers to prayers. It also helps with patience. Faith gives us the strength to endure when we go through various trials, and it is faith that can help us be patiently self-controlled while we wait for God to intervene.
Self-control is a vital fruit to have. Without self-control, we become “like a city broken into and left without walls” (Prov 25:28). We are laid bare without the ability to think sensibly, behave correctly, and to walk in the gospel of peace.
Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Therefore, the next time I feel my emotions controlling my actions, I think I will work on disciplining myself by making sure I calm myself down before I speak. I am an ambassador of Christ (2 Cor 5:20), and as an ambassador, how I act teaches my children much more than anything I could ever say.