May 25: Mastering your self-control

Ultimately, the only power to which man should aspire is that which he exercises over himself. ~Elie Wiesel.

Of all the fruits of the Spirit mentioned in the Bible, self-control is quite possibly the most difficult to master. Is that why it’s last in the list in Galatians? Because God knew it would be tough, so He knew we’d need all the others to take on the self-control challenge?

Self-control is the act of not doing something when your emotion demands it. It’s not saying something even though you know you’re right. It’s biting your tongue when you’d like to jump in with both barrels. It’s not stepping in to fix something when you know you can. Og Mandino puts it like this: “Weak is he who permits his thoughts to control his actions; strong is he who forces his actions to control his thoughts.” Self-control actually impacts the other eight fruits and, more often than not — at least in today’s society — the most important self-control challenge centers around the tongue. It’s tough not to say something, right?

In his best-seller The Greatest Salesman in the World, Mandino devotes an entire chapter to this thought: Today, I will master my emotions. That is the essence of self-control: Surrendering your feelings, immediate desires and behavior for longer-term goals. Basically coming back to fight another day. Here’s what I know for sure: You will have multiple opportunities today to demonstrate self-control. More than likely, at least one of those opportunities will show up in difficult circumstances. That’s when you take a moment, step back from the fray and consider your response. For today, I will master my emotions.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23.

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