We continued our nine month study on the Fruits of the Spirit. Our focus for September is the fruit of Self-Control. This is the last of the nine fruits listed in Galatians 5. It is the fruit that allows all other fruits to be seen in our lives. When we allow self control to grow in us, others will experience us as loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, and gentle. Self control can be understood as a sensitivity to Love that knows when and how to appropriately respond (vs react) to any person or circumstance. In our lifetime we will never respond appropriately and lovingly 100% of the time. But as we "lean into the Spirit" when we lack self control we will grow in love and self control.
This week Sean talked about how "not seeing" is a primary barrier to self control being developed in our lives. There are two aspects to "not seeing."
First is how it relates to others. We lack self control because we don't really "see" others. We relate to them out of preconceived ideas and judgments we have made about them. We have experiences with others and then we begin to construct stories about them in our minds- who they are, how they act, what they are like. Then the next time we interact with them we use these "stories" as a framework for our interaction. The problem is they are no longer exactly that same person- time and experience has altered them (even if it is a short time). Every day, every moment we are all growing and changing. When we enter into an encounter with someone with eyes and a mind that doesn't have a pre-set story or judgment, we are able to really "see" that person (or situation). And in that "seeing" we are open to the possibility that the other person (or situation) is not as we pre-supposed and we are open to responding in love and with self control vs reacting.
The second way that we don't "see" that hinders self control is that we don't see ourselves as we truly are. The majority of us are not brutally honesty when it comes to knowing ourselves. We would rather hide in self deceit than have our weakness, frailties and "sins" exposed. The difficulty with this, as it relates to self control, is that until we uncover and heal our core issues we will always react out of them rather than respond in love and self control. We falsely believe that if we are honest about our "stuff" we will be rejected by God. The truth is that God says over and over again, "you are my beloved." Even from the cross Jesus said- "forgive them for they don't know what they are doing" (talk about responding in love and self-control). God's default position toward us is one of love, forgiveness and grace. As we embrace our being loved by God with all our shortcomings, we can have the courage to face (and allow healing) of that false shadow self. With that healing we no longer have a need to defend or hide our true selves and our tendency to react is transformed into responding with self control and love.
By Babs May-Clark