Self-control is the ability to live with restraints. In the Greek, the word for self-control is Enkrateia meaning ‘having a great force within, but under control.’ Self- control is the last Fruit of the Spirit that is listed in Galatians chapter 5 but that doesn’t make it the least important. The world looks at the self-control demanded in Scripture and sees it almost as weakness. It most often comes in the “I do whatever I want when I want” form. When those outside of Christ look at Christianity, they don’t see that the Lord has called His people to live holy lives. They see a God who has taken all the “fun” out of life. They believe Christians to be brainwashed into giving up the freedom to “experience” life. However, the reality of the situation is opposite of that thinking.
Proverbs 25:28 says, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” This verse gives me the image of a person who is defeated all the time. They constantly do what they want without any forethought, and the end result is that they live life always wondering, “Why is this happening to me?” or “Why can’t I achieve this?”
Self-control is an important character trait because it separates the free-living and undisciplined person of the world from the controlled and disciplined life of Christianity. God blesses those who not only obey Him, but seek to live their lives according to His will; meaning they have the desire to live life in a Godly way. That’s where the big separation in self- control between Christianity and those outside of it is. For people in the world, self-control often leads to things like monetary success or high status because they are not obligated to practice self-control in any other area of their lives except in their jobs. There is no moral authority commanding them how to live. However, Christians with self-control are active soul winners. They are more often of sound mind and physicality because there is a moral authority that states how we should conduct ourselves in every aspect of our lives.
Does the Christian always succeed in having perfect self-control? Absolutely not. We are better off trying and failing over and over again than to try once, fail and give up though. I encourage us this week to be aware of our thoughts and actions. To practice self-control in every area of our lives and to remember that being restrained isn’t a bad thing but a Fruit of the Spirit that, at its very core, defines being a Christian in a corrupt world.