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  • Writer's pictureWill Stockdale

Back to the Beginning

Updated: 12 hours ago

The self control that flows from love



The Fruit of the Spirit ends with the beginning in mind. When we come to the final fruit in Galatians 5:23 we see not the end goal of living a godly life, but a virtue forming the foundation of our walk with God. The Fruit of the Spirit begins with love, the greatest Christian virtue of all (1 Corinthians 13:13), and ends with self control, the beginning of practicing the Christian life. 


Compared with other Fruit of the Spirit such as Love, Joy, or Peace, Self Control might come off as mundane and pedestrian. “Those are the real signs of being a Christian” we might say. But in truth, Self Control is equally as significant as the others. It is a signpost to God’s workmanship.


To be a Christian is to be brought into an entirely new way of being. Prior to salvation those outside of Christ are said to be dead in their sins and transgressions, dwell in darkness, and be at enmity with God. Upon salvation we are made alive, dwell in God’s marvelous light, and become God’s sons and daughters. 


This radical transition is accompanied by an entirely new way of living. We are called to love the brotherhood of believers and our neighbors as ourselves. To pray for those who persecute us. To not consider others better than ourselves. To outdo one another in showing honor. There are many others that could be listed, but most of all we are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. 


Considering what God has rescued us from, and where he is taking us to, Self Control should appear to us as a necessary miracle–necessary because it is foundational for our growth. A miracle because by it we witness ourselves choosing the things of God over the things of the flesh. 


In practicing Self Control we refuse to engage in dishonoring deeds that come by impulse or habit. It protects us from remorse and regret. Over sin we follow in obedience. Rather than self indulgence we choose self sacrifice. Instead of slander we choose to bless. Where bitterness might take root we turn to prayer. When we are tempted to deny God’s goodness we choose to believe his promises. 


This final Fruit is the result of and opens the way to abundant living in God’s Kingdom. It is a wonder that we would choose to love God more than sin. To do so, to practice Self Control unto the glory of God, demonstrates the fruit that we love him because he first loved us. Let us marvel at the sweet reality of his rich work. 



 

Rev. Will Stockdale is the Director of Hill Staff Ministries in Washington, D.C. and cohost of The Statement.

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