Thursday, March 19, 2009

"How Self-controlled Are You?" Temperance, a Fruit of the Spirit

Remember when "The Jerry Springer Show" was the talk of the town? Most of us probably hadn't seen much like it. Now, however, whether flipping through channels on television, surfing on the Internet, or taking a shopping trip tn the mall, it's commonplace to hear or see an embarrassing lack of self-control in people sometimes. So many people, say, write, or do what they feel with no regard for the consequences. I can't even count the number of times I've heard, "That's just the way I am." I might as well admit it, I have been guilty of saying this very thing and more than once!

However, our lives should reflect the image of Christ, so how we really should be must be aligned with Him and His Word. Temperance or self-control is the last fruit of the Spirit, one that is not really valued much in society today, but of great value in the kingdom of God.

I often think of Moses and what a great man of God he was. Still, he had a problem with self-control. After 37 years in the wilderness, the Israelites had experienced God's goodness and provision over and over again. Still, they complained and rebelled against their leader, Moses. Without water and food, the Israelites complained that God had surely left them to die. (See Numbers 20)

When Moses and Aaron went to seek God at the door of the tabernacle, the glory of the Lord appeared to them. The Lord spoke to Moses, telling him to take his rod before the people and simply to speak to the rock so that water would come forth. We know the story, Moses struck the rock out of anger not only once, but twice. The interesting thing about this is that Moses probably felt justified in his anger. The people's lack of belief apparently frustrated him immeasurably. Still, he was severly punished by God for his disobedience to God's explicit instructions. He was not allowed to enter into the Promised Land for a moment of anger and lack of self-control.

It can be disconcerting for us to think about the consequences for not exercising self-control, but it is a reality. As Christians, we are models for others, and when we give in to our emotions and react in a way that's displeasing to God, even for a moment, we can reap devastating results.

Reading the Word and praying daily is imperative to keep the flesh under submission. I can tell you that my nature is to be highly sensitive and highly emotional, which has it's positive points, but also has tons of negatives. To keep myself centered and grounded, I have to be in relationship with the Lord at all times. I can admit that I don't always succeed, but even in this, I repent and do better, always pressing towards the mark.

We're in a very serious spiritual battle, and Satan wants to deceive us into thinking that there are no consequences for disobedience and the lack of self-control. However, we can't go through life saying and doing whatever we feel. We are called to a higher place. Our direction must come from the living God, and the words we speak and actions we take should be out of obedience to Him and His Word.

Like all of the fruits of the Spirit, temperance is accessible to us as a gift of God's Holy Spirit. We can work to try to control ourselves, but only a supernatural indwelling can equip us with the ability to attain this mighty gift of God.

So, how about you? How's your self-control lately? Drop me a line. . .

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