“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…” Often the church focuses on the “gifts of the Spirit” and the abilities to get tasks accomplished with giftedness and excellence over the “fruit of the Spirit” and the character and heart of God’s people. Are the gifts effective outside of the fruit? Why are we tempted in the church to favor gifts? How might this be connected to the original temptation of Adam/Eve? Let the image of Christ himself be formed in me. Amen.
“For the Lord, the Most High, is awesome, a great King over all the earth.” The Holy Spirit is given to encourage, empower, and embolden the church in its witness to Christ in the world. The Spirit is given to increase the Kingship of God over all the earth. How can we be tempted to take God’s resources to build our own kingdoms rather than His? Is our ministry under the great King? – Forgive us O Lord for building our own kingdoms that give us control; help us to surrender to the true King and Your will and ways. Amen.
“Each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable…” Sometimes it is easy to talk about godly character in some theoretical way, disconnected from what we live in our body. “Self-control” is the embodiment of bringing the body under the discipline of heart and mind. Why is it tempting to have an intellectual faith separated from the body? Why is our body and what we do with it important to our faith and ministry? Spirit of God, only through your power may I live a holy and honorable life. Empower me.
“Therefore, prepare you minds for action; be self-controlled; set you hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” Peter reminds us that active waiting and intense searching has always been part of faithful following of God. We should not be surprised that we do not have all the answers and fulfillment of our faith right now. What would you like God to reveal to you right now? How are you waiting in mind, heart, and spirit these days? – Spirit of God, prepare my mind and control my emotions; set my hope on you.
“The grace of God…teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age.” Some Christians excuse their sin and lack of self-control by appealing to a future perfecting when we get to heaven. God’s word is clear here that self-controlled living begins here and now as we develop and practice it. What do I need to learn to say “No” to as a follower of Jesus? Forgive our “yeses” to worldly passions and teach us through Your grace to say, “No” instead. Amen.
“Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down.” I do not think I have ever seen this verse carved in a wood plaque or declared as someone’s favorite verse. How would the world be different if Christians and Christian leaders exercised self-control over their mouths? Have I been gossiping recently? Who have I hurt? Do I need to seek forgiveness? Forgive me Lord, for being so quick to talk about others and so slow to hear you voice through others to me.
“You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” Self-control involves feelings, thought, and actions. Behavior and actions that are out of control are a clear signal that something is off in our lives. What actions, habits, and embodied behaviors are “out of control” in my life these days? What might God be doing to help me bring my body in line with His will and His holiness? O Holy Spirit, let there be a consistency between my words and my actions, that all may know I belong to you.
“…think on these things.” Self-control involves our thinking as well as our feelings and bodies. We are transformed, “by the renewing of our minds.” Why is it so important to discipline and control our thought life? How does our thinking affect and change us? Lord Jesus, help us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Amen.
“Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.” God calls us to exercise self-control over our feelings. As Christians we are not controlled by our feelings, but by the Spirit who teaches us all truth. How do we discern the difference between our feelings and the movements of the Holy Spirit? Can our feelings of peace or unrest be the barometer of our decisions and actions? – Give us wisdom, courage, and an honest, open heart to discern your ways Lord, that we may think, act, and feel as followers of Jesus.
“God did not give us a Spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control.” Many Christians are happy with a Spirit of love and power. Maybe we are not as excited about a Spirit of self-control. Are we looking for a way where God zaps away our questionable desires, attitudes, and actions, rather than the work of bringing those desires under control? Where am I showing self-control these days? What is it lacking in my life? – Spirit of the Living God, of power, love, and self-control; enable me to live a holy life. Amen.</