THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
- THE NINTH GRAPE OF THE CLUSTER
Self-Control — Last But Certainly Not Least in the Fruit of the Holy Spirit
The ninth grape in the fruit cluster group of God's Spirit is the last, but it is certainly not least. This is especially true, when we realize that it has everything to do with the use of our tongue, the use of our hands, the use of our minds, our entire bodies, and even the use of our money.
We may be surprised to find that this particular aspect or trait of Christ's Character within us is so all inclusive. This particular grape in the fruit cluster of God's Spirit has so much to do with addictions; we are talking about addictions of any kind, even over spending and the use of a credit card. Discussing this particular aspect of Christ's work in us has a great deal to do with our temper, unpredictable behavior, untamed attitudes and actions.
The ninth grape in the fruit cluster of God's Spirit in Galatians 5:22 could be defined as self-control, temperance, moderation or self-restraint. W. Phillip Keller says this in his book entitled A Gardener Looks at the Fruits of the Spirit, in Chapter 13, “No doubt it is true and fair to say that this is one aspect of Christian conduct and character and conversation which most of us have the greatest difficulty.” Of all the traits of Christ's character in the garden of our lives, “this may well be the one which is the most ‘spotty,’ ‘uneven,’ and ‘irregular.’”
Of all of the grapes in the fruit cluster of God's Spirit in our lives this may well be the one which is the most under-developed. Why is that the case? What is it in our lives, that hinders us from experiencing any or all of the grapes (traits or characteristics) for that matter in the garden of our lives or the soil of our souls?
Read these words slowly, prayerfully and thoroughly from Galatians 5 “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. 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.”
Those last two sentences are talking about denying oneself, surrender, submission and obedience. Those are difficult attitudes and actions. But they are very important and vital in our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, if you and I are going to experience the fruit of God's Spirit within us. Letting the Lord govern, rule and control our mind, emotions, our will, our actions, attitudes and behavior results in His character shining in and through us. There is no other way. Doing the Lord's will results in self-control over our eating, what we read, getting enough rest, our spending, our tongue, our behavior towards others, etc.
A gardener noticed that a tree planted at the sunny end of his house had large and beautiful blossoms. It was a feast to the eyes; but what an amazing difference in some of the branches trained around the corner of the house where they received less sun. The blossoms were starved and dropping, and there was little promise of fruit. They had the same root and stem in common, but only one part of the tree was in the full glorious light, the other branches were in the shade.
Our character is affected in the same way by insufficient light. The dark places produce unfruitful branches: strange weaknesses, distortions, inconsistencies, immaturities, indirection, failures in practical life and conduct. If all the fruit of God's Spirit is going to be fully developed in our lives, then we need to open our entire lives, heart, soul, mind and body to the complete exposure of God's light, namely Jesus Christ, who is "The Light."
There is no much more that could be explored on the work and power of God's Spirit in our lives. Therefore, in closing this series of meditations on the soil of our souls, the fruit of the Spirit and what is produced in the garden of our lives; let me highly recommend the book entitled A Gardener Looks at the Fruits of the Spirit, by W. Phillip Keller.
The truth of these words from Philippians 2:5-8 are vitally important now and always in our lives.
"Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross."
May the heart, mind, life and the character of Christ be found in you and me through the work of His Holy Spirit.
Pastor Perry DeGroot