The last fruit of the Spirit that Paul writes about in Galatians (5:22-23) is self-control (NIV, NRSV) also translated as temperance(KJV). That sounds like an outward control of bad habits, but it’s more an attachment to Jesus’s teachings and His leading us to the kingdom of God than us controlling our own behavior. Priorities change as we form a deeper and deeper relationship with Christ. We change from wanting to “look good,” like the Pharisees, to being good inside and out. As we follow more and more of His wisdom for us, as we live into our destiny with Christ, our need for self- or ego-control lessens, because there are so many things that we just can’t do anymore. His love for us and our love of God more and more replace our own needs for ego-satisfaction. Our understanding of other people grows and our love and forgiveness for them increase as well, as we follow the Indwelling Spirit of God who resides in each of us.
“The acts of the flesh [the world] are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before,, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21) This word precedes the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians. It reflects the passions and the mistakes of the world which we are so attached to before we give our lives over to Christ.
From that moment on, the Spirit of God is leading us on a journey where we release our need to live in the world, to be of the world. Some of these things we will stop doing and resolve to find another way to express ourselves through prayer and the healing that the Spirit offers us. But in the main, our journey with Christ will relieve us of the need to do these things as He highlights our oh-so human tendencies and then, as we lay these tendencies of ours on His altar, He heals us and moves us in the direction of our purpose and the fulfillment of our lives here on earth.
So, then, we can live His truth that we are in this world, but not of the world (John 17:14-19). Self-control is another aspect of love. When we do not love ourselves or feel God’s love for us, we devolve to expressing anger, judgment, fear, ambition and more. But when we feel God’s love and the desire to be love in this world, then all these oh-so-human needs fall away. We are captives of God’s love. There is not a higher expression of who we are than this: that we bring love to everyone we meet, that we express God’s love in this world, not the much more limited human love, to everyone we meet. That we work to achieve our purpose which for all of us is to be love in this world, even as we each are called in a unique way to bring God’s love wherever we are and in whatever we do.
With our “eyes on the prize”—God Himself, we are praying the song. “All of Me:”
All of me
why not take all of me
Can’t you see
I’m no good without you.
We are praying that God will transform us into the whole of the fruit of the spirit, so that we can in fact love and forgive and be merciful to all that we meet.
Questions to ponder over the week: How am I doing with letting go of my ego-controlling my life? Am I more attached to God than to my own agenda? Am I willing to surrender to His desires for me? When will I start being not of this world? Is it my intention to live in the kingdom of God in this world?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who are in this world, but not of this world. May we be true to God above all other considerations/desires.
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