Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.~Proverbs 16:32 NIV
I was about to exercise an attitude of self-control even though I knew I was right and my friend was wrong.
A fellow classmate, John,* cornered me in front of an audience and argued about doctrine.
“That’s not true,” I whispered, as ten military classmates stood behind him, nodding in agreement.
“Yes, it is. I’ll prove it from the Bible. I’m right!” John clenched his fists as his face reddened.
The class waited for my rebuttal.
“This is not the time or place for this conversation,” I said in a whisper, leaning in toward John.
“Aww, come on, Ryerson, prove him wrong,” another classmate bellowed.
“Let’s continue this conversation elsewhere,” I said, walking toward the classroom.
John followed me, “You know I’m right. That’s why you left.”
“No, I left because there are many unsaved cadets watching, and it’s a bad witness to argue over Scripture.”
“Yeah, but…” John stopped mid-sentence as the rest of the class gathered around us in the hall of the school building. He wanted to keep debating, but he knew by my furrowed brow and frown he should stop.
“I guess Ryerson gave in. Some class leader we’ve got,” another classmate said, ridiculing me.
Class started, and I whispered to John, “We need to be on the same page here if we want to show Jesus’ love to our classmates.”
Over the next few weeks, John worked to control his impulsiveness and anger. We told the class that we were wrong to argue, and we asked them to forgive us.
Several times, John cornered me off duty and insisted I listen to his point of view. Now I was the one who needed to exercise self-control. When he approached me the third time, I struggled to control anger and pride.
“Satan is getting a foothold, and our witness is being destroyed,” I said. “Please, John, let’s just agree to disagree. We need to focus on being Christlike.”
We asked each other for forgiveness, as we both exercised self-control. During our two-month military training, many classmates asked us about Jesus. We showed them the love of Christ, spent time witnessing to them, and shared resources to those in need.
THE FRUIT OF SELF-CONTROL
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.~Galatians 5:22-26 NKJV
The fruit of the Spirit includes self-control. The Greek word is egkrateia, and it is defined as the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, especially his sensual appetites. Because this is a spiritual gift and we are in Christ, we can ask the Lord to create this within our spirits.
NEHEMIAH EXEMPLIFIES SELF-CONTROL
In Nehemiah chapter four, we read about the self-control he and his people exercised. During the Israelite exile in Babylon, Nehemiah was a high official at the Persian court. He prayed for four months before petitioning the king about the conditions his homeland faced. Nehemiah was heartbroken because the city walls of his homeland, Jerusalem, were being ravished. Many of the walls had already been torn down. Nehemiah asked the king permission to return to his home to help his people reinforce the walls.
Once Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem, he showed self-control by refusing to pick fights with the enemies who taunted the Israelites. Instead, he helped his people focus on the task in front of them. When nearby armies tried to attack, he stationed guards who stayed on the ready while the others worked. Nehemiah knew God was with them. He acted calmly and practiced self-control, and he taught them to do likewise. This helped to stabilize a tough situation. It also helped the Israelites to cope with working in this stressful environment.
Friend, do you practice self-control when faced with stressful situations? Let’s purpose in our hearts to do so. Our friends will know we are Christians when we love them despite their flaws. Others will know our faith is real, and they will get saved, all because we chose to exercise the spiritual fruit of self-control. Ask the Lord to impart to you, this spiritual gift.
What recent event turned into a blessing because you practiced self-control?
Father God, teach me to use the spiritual gift of self-control and empower me with Your victory. Make me a witness who cares more about my friends’ spiritual lives, than whether I am recognized or approved. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Copyright 2022: An Attitude of Self-Control: Cherrilynn Bisbano: All Rights Reserved