I had an incredible thought last night. It was one of those ‘light bulb’ moments where you go ‘duh!’ and wonder why you haven’t thought about it before.
I’ve always wondered why, in the fruits of the spirit, Paul listed both patience and self-control. To me they’d always been synonymous – self-control and patience both meant not losing your temper – so what was the point of writing them down twice? Then yesterday, it all made sense.
Character First! defines self-control as, ‘rejecting wrong desires and doing what is right’. There are a lot of wrong desires out there outside of not getting angry, isn’t there? It means choosing not to eat all the ice-cream because you know how much you are allowed to eat, and how much is good for your body (and you’ve probably already eaten it!) It means letting go of bitter grudges against others because you know that ‘if anyone has a complaint against each other, even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do’. It means bypassing a cruel joke or a spiteful comment because you know that your tongue has the power to destroy or build up and ‘in the outflow of speech sin is not lacking’. Self-control can really be kept quite busy in our lives!
So it’s not always self-control and patience that are synonymous (although sometimes they are) – it’s self-control and self-management that are one and the same. Self-control however is such an amazing trait, because it is evidence of the Holy Spirit working in us. And unlike self-management, self-control gives us the moral reason why:
To reject wrong desires and do what is right!
In what other areas of our lives could self-control lend a hand?