Which Came First

Self-Control

I am greatly perplexed by this one.

Self-control is a Fruit of the Spirit.

A person who exhibits love and gentleness and self-control demonstrates the fruits of the Spirit.

And yet, I keep thinking….how can self-control be a fruit?  It seems to me that self-control is a necessary ingredient that leads to the fruit.

I am so perplexed, I went back to the original language.

Look here …this site shows the original Greek word (“egkrateia”, reference 1466), the word’s meaning, and other places in the Bible that this exact word is used.

Interesting to me, one of only three places in the whole Bible that this exact word is used is in 2 Peter 1:6….which is my tree picture.

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For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.

You can’t have the apple until the roots have been laid.  HOW can self-control be a fruit when you HAVE to have some self-control to get your foot in the door?

Well…now I have really gone down a rabbit hole.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  It’s a conundrum.  Turns out scientists have finally answered the question.

 

Why am I asking these questions?

In some ways the “self-control” question and the “chicken” question are both academic.  They don’t really matter.

As a Jesus disciple, I am inspired to demonstrate self-control.  When and where I can control my self in a way that is loving and gentle and joyful, I will.  When and where I can’t, I will rely on prayer and God’s help.

Like yesterday.

I was driving home from church when I saw a bumper sticker on the back of a truck.  It said, “Gun owners vote for Trump.”  Grrrrrrrrrrrr….I was not gentle, joyful, or loving.  I was thinking…

“Not all gun owners vote for Trump!  I hate guns!  Trump is a fear monger!”

I was losing my self-control.  Really my thoughts were much more profane than what I will write here.  I could feel the self-control going out the window.  I prayed to God.  I told God I wanted to be calm and loving.  But as I drove up alongside the truck I could not….I did not stop myself from looking in to see what kind of people these gun-loving, Trump-voting people were.  I quickly glanced, noticing a couple of people.  I drove past them and stuck my hand up through my moon roof and did a thumbs down gesture.  I suppose it was some level of self-control because I didn’t do a different gesture.  I wanted to be loving so I stopped at that.  I drove on for a while with them behind me.

Then I noticed they were starting to pass me up…probably because I had slowed instintively as I was trying to control myself.  I wanted to glare at them as they passed by, but I kept my eyes focused on the road in front of me.  But I couldn’t help it…but I nevertheless made another gesture.  I put my hand up to the window on my left and made the shape of a gun with my fingers.  I didn’t look over to start a fight.  I just held my hand up to my window.  (I hear the reprimands from you…it was all much more subtle than it sounds…I don’t think they even saw me.  But I saw me.  God saw me.)

I hang my head down in shame.

Did I lack self-control because the Spirit can’t produce any fruit in the rotten soil of my heart?  Or did I lack self-control, therefore undermining the growth of fruit?

I don’t know.

But I DO know that God’s mercies are new every morning.  And this morning I woke with a fresh new start.  Thank you God.

Lamentations 3:22-23 English Standard Version (ESV)

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;[a]
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.