In this week’s Fruits of the Spirit guest blog, Pastor Stephanie Burnette shares with us about the spirit of Self-Control. Pastor Stephanie serves alongside her husband at LifePoint Church in Clarksville, Tennessee, and has been supporting Mercy for over 5 years.

Have you heard of these fun little tests given to kids, where someone will set a treat on the table in front of their adorable little toddler? The Mom says “I’m going to run in the other room for a minute, but DON’T eat the cookie until I get back! I will be right back!” Oh man, what self-control that little human must exercise to not eat that delicious-looking Oreo! I’ve even seen somewhere the Mom says, “If you don’t eat this cookie when I get back, I will give you two cookies.” Some kids are able to exhibit self-control, but most aren’t!

Controlling ourselves is one of the hardest things in life. You see, it’s much easier to tell others what to do, and try to control what they are doing. Rather, biting my tongue when I really want to say something mean to get back at someone or lose my temper when my child pushes my buttons requires a strength that comes not from myself, but from the strength of the Holy Spirit.

How can we grow in self-control considering what we are up against when it comes to overcoming sin in our lives? The truth is, I am not strong enough to overcome sin in my own strength, but as a Christ follower, it is God’s power IN me, that allows me to say no to sin.

This is for somebody today…

“If you have the Spirit of Christ living in you, you have NO obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.” Romans 8:12

This verse shows me how to walk in freedom. I no longer HAVE to walk in sin. This is incredible! My flesh makes me feel like I want to indulge in sin, but since the Spirit of God dwells in me, I don’t have to give in. In fact, 2 Corinthians 10:5 says that we can “take every thought captive to obey Christ.” Another version says, “taking captive every thought into the obedience of Christ.” This is fantastic news! I don’t have to be tossed to and fro in my mind or be irrational with decisions based on how I’m feeling at any given moment. The book of James instructs us to be single-minded and STABLE in all our ways.

Self-control can be thought of not only in terms of saying no to sin but also having the discipline and ability to say yes to the right things.

1 Peter 4:7 says, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.”

Self-control isn’t just the willpower of my own might. You see, determining that I’m just going to BE better, or force myself to DO right, will become exhausting rather quickly. Rather, if you fall in love with Jesus, and learn WHO He is and understand His love for you, following His commands and obeying what He teaches will make more sense. Our self-controlled and disciplined life will flow out of genuine love for the One who gave it all so we could have a relationship with the God of the universe. Jesus paid it all on Calvary for us, so we could experience true life through Jesus. Once you begin falling in love with Christ, you desire to grow in self-control, saying no to sin and yes to living for Jesus. Then you can’t help but want to invest in others, serve your neighbors, and love the world.

Doing life God’s way is always better for me than what I think is better. The longer I serve Jesus, the more I experience His faithfulness. Saying no to my flesh pays off every time. God always knows what’s best for me. Humans have been getting this wrong since the beginning of time. If I can put my total trust in the Lord and do what He tells me, I won’t be led astray and I will walk in His peace, even if it’s in a storm. While self-control may be a fruit of the Spirit, don’t seek out the fruit, seek out the giver of the fruit.

Stephanie Burnette serves alongside her husband Mike, and together they pastor LifePoint Church in Clarksville, TN. Stephanie’s heart is to help others understand who they are in Christ, discover their purpose, and experience victory in their lives. Mike and Stephanie have lived in Clarksville since 2010 and have four beautiful daughters. Be sure to check out Pastor Stephanie and LifePoint Church on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or their website linked here.

Mercy Multiplied exists to provide opportunities for all to experience God’s unconditional love, forgiveness, and life-transforming power.  We offer multiple programs and resources online and onsite designed to equip people to live free and stay free in Christ. For more information about the services we offer, click here.

Want more resources? Check out our MercyTalk podcast episode “Why Roots Matter”. For daily inspiration, follow us @MercyMultiplied on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter