Editor’s Note: This week welcome guest blogger, David Hundert. David is a current Master of Divinity student at Evangelical Seminary.
One of the interesting things that I read this week in preparation for this blog series, is that when Paul lists in Galatians 5 what the New International Version of the Bible refers to as the “acts” of the flesh, and some versions refer to them as “works, Paul calls the products of our flesh “works” and the products of God’s Spirit through us “fruit.” Why the difference?
Until recently I would have said: because “works” implies effort and “fruit” implies ease. After all, God’s will is that we experience love, joy, and peace with ease. But then I noticed that many of the “works of the flesh” are just as effortless for a worldly person as the fruit of the Spirit is for the person who trains themselves to walk in step with the Spirit. For example, anger doesn’t require any effort. If you cross a worldly person, anger seems to be the natural result. Look at today’s news regarding the recent Supreme court decision to see that. How about envy? No one has to work to be envious. It just blisters up like old paint under Zip Strip. So I doubt that when Paul called these vices “works,” it’s because they require effort to produce. A bad tree can bear bad fruit effortlessly.
Author, Daniel Akst, in his article titled, “Who’s in Charge Here?” wrote:
“Life in modern Western cultures is like living at a giant all-you-can-eat buffet offering more calories, credit, sex, intoxicants, and just about anything else one could take to excess than our forebears might ever have imagined. With more possibilities for pleasure and fewer rules and constraints than ever before, the happy few will be those, able to exercise self-control.”
So, for the last eight weeks, we have learned that when we walk in step with the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit will grow in our lives. We learned that the list in Galatians 5:22-23 is not a list of separate types of fruit, but one fruit with several characteristics. What are those characteristics? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and finally, self-control.
What I’m hoping to accomplish this week is to talk about what self-control is, what scripture says about it, why it’s important, and finally, how we can develop it in our lives.
In the next post we get started!