“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23
Someone once said, “I can resist everything but temptation.” Let me just ask, how quickly do you fall into temptation? Giving in to our weaknesses is such an easy thing to do—especially in a culture where self-control is a virtue at the bottom of the list.
Over the past few weeks my wife and I and several others have been on a rather strict diet. We’re not doing it to lose weight; we’re not attempting to radically change our lifestyle—we’re simply disciplining ourselves and practicing self-control for 30 days. The main practice of this diet involves the elimination of sugars, grains, and dairy—three things that I absolutely love! And let me tell you, this has been more difficult than I originally thought. It has truly tested my will power. Before the diet, there was no temptation to sneak a few pieces of candy here and there. I simply ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Now I can’t even watch a football game on TV without the lure of a Sonic Blast calling my name. It’s been a battle, but thus far, God has helped me remain faithful.
All of this has been causing me to think about discipline and temptation more and more. Believe me, there have been moments when I’ve thought—what’s one tiny piece of candy? What harm will it do? No one would ever notice. But then a phrase keeps popping up each time that happens: If I compromise here, where else in my life might I be tempted to compromise?
Jesus tells a story of man who went on a journey, but before leaving, he gives his servants some money. One receives 5 talents, the next 2, and the last 1. After the journey the man returns to see what his servants did. The first two servants doubled their talents, but the last servant did nothing. To the two servants who doubled the talents, the man said, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” (See Matthew 25:14-30)
Again in our world, it seems that the virtue of self-control is not highly valued. But I wonder today where God has asked you to be faithful in small things? Even if no one would notice, where can you be trustworthy? If you continue to compromise in one area of your life, where else might you be tempted to compromise?
This week, pray that God would produce in you the fruit of self-control (and the ability to say ‘no' to that candy bar).