Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.~Proverbs 16:32 NIV
I knew deep in my heart I was right.
A fellow classmate, John, cornered me in front of an audience and said, “You must be baptized to go to Heaven.”
“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.” John clenched his fists as his face reddened.
The class waited for my rebuttal.
“I leaned in toward John and whispered, “This is not the time or place for this conversation.”
“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 to our class.”
John agreed, and over the next few weeks, he worked to control his impulsiveness and anger. We told the class that we were wrong to argue and asked for their forgiveness.
Several times, John cornered me off duty and insisted I listen to his point of view. Now I needed self-control. My anger and pride raised their ugly heads when he approached me for the third time.
“Satan is getting a foothold, and our witness is being destroyed. Please, John, let’s agree to disagree and instead focus on being Christlike.”
We asked each other for forgiveness, and self-control won us over. Over time, many classmates asked us about Jesus during our two-month military training. We showed them the love of Christ, spent time witnessing to them, and gave resources to those in need.
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 within our spirits this gifting.
One biblical example of self-control is found in Nehemiah chapter four. During the Israelite exile in Babylon, Nehemiah was a made a high official at the Persian court. He prayed for four months before petitioning the king about the condition his homeland faced. Jerusalem’s city walls were being ravished, and its walls were being torn down. Nehemiah asked if he could return to his home to help his people reinforce the walls. 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, which helped stabilize a tough situation. It also helped the Israelites to manage this stressful environment.
Do you practice self-control when faced with similar situations? Let’s purpose in our hearts to do so. People will know we are Christians when we love them despite their flaws. Others will know our faith is real as we exercise the spiritual fruit of self-control.
Do you struggle with self-control in an area of your life? Ask the Lord to help you.
Father God, teach me to use the spiritual gift of self-control and empower me with Your victory. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Copyright 2022: An Attitude of Self-Control: Cherrilynn Bisbano: All Rights Reserved