Producing spiritual fruit is all about decision making. Decisions determine the outcome of our lives. We can make some bad decisions. We all do. But did we learn from them? Every wrong decision can be part of our spiritual development if we allow them, even though they may hurt. The best choices are usually the result of learning from our wrong preferences and their consequences because we live with their results.
The foundation of good choices is found primarily in three areas—past experiences, advice, or observations from wise people and biblical examples. Although we cannot predict the outcome of our choices, we are sure the results will be better. The self-control of our thoughts lends themselves to the wisdom of sound decisions.
The word for self-control in the Bible only appears in three verses in the New Testament. Each of them commands a thoughtful decision.
Paul, now a prisoner, is standing before Felix, one of the Roman authorities in Israel (Acts 24). Felix has the power to release Paul from the false accusations of the hypocritical Jewish leaders. Felix, along with his Jewish wife, Drusilla, hear Paul’s subject matter concerning Christ. Because of this message, Felix was under conviction. In his heart, he was reasoning about righteousness and self-control (verse 25). Instead of accepting Christ, he chose to send Paul away. The Bible does not record Felix ever accepting Christ as his Redeemer.
The second place in scripture that self-control is mentioned concerns the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5:22,23. It is the last of nine fruits listed. Self-control is the evidence of the other eight-character traits in action. Without the ability to restrain our emotions and practices, we are inconsistent in our Christian walk. A consistent mindset stabilizes our character.
All of us struggle with self-control to some degree. It is an ongoing effort in our lives. Determination and effort on our part will help each of us to improve our service for the Lord.