The Grace of Self-Control

Galatians 5:22-23

“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.”

The more I study grace, the more I am amazed at how it pops up everywhere I look! You will find a running theme throughout our website here at Braving Grace – Grace is not something you can earn! It is not something you can work for! It is the free, unmerited favor of God.

I was all prepared to write a little something about grace providing for us when it pertains to having self-control, but I was so blown away by the last six words of Galatians 5:23. I had to take a hard right turn and not sure where to start now!

Ok, so here goes…….

Self-control always seemed like such an odd part of this list we find in Galatians 5. To me it gives the impression that it is something we need to do for ourSELF. This immediately leads to us believing we are able to prove something or work for something in order to have the beloved control over something – restraint from a bad habit or lifestyle, not indulging in sugary snacks, the sheer will power to avoid that thing! But that’s not what it’s about at all! Self-control is a gift, and we already have it!

As you’ve probably read or heard many times (simply because it’s true), is that it is easier to understand what something IS if you first understand what it isn’t. I say this concerning self-control because many of us have ourselves fooled that if we keep ourselves focused and able to stick to the schedule or follow the calendar or stay on that diet, or avoidance of a toxic relationship, that we are masters of self-control. That is NOT necessarily what self-control looks like. It might appear like self-control, but really it is legalism at it’s finest because its masked in things that look good. It’s masked as something we’ve accomplished.

Anyone who is horrible at time management can tell you that the person who keeps a calendar (and actually follows it) is enviable because of their own “out of control” day! But what if that person who keeps the perfect calendar is secretly harboring agitation and inner turmoil making every effort to make it to the day that says, “Self-Care Day”! That’s not self-control at all – that’s being completely controlled by a piece of paper with numbers on it, suffering through a tedious week all for a couple hours of so-called rest!

Or another example: That one relationship. It causes hurt and you aren’t quite sure how to confront it with peace? So you avoid the person. Sure, you’re not talking to them giving the appearance of self-control to those who know you should put boundaries in place, but you are still poking around on social media to see if they’re being nicer to other people and still enjoying life without you. First off, there is no grace in that situation at all. And secondly, there is no peace. Heck, there is no peace or grace because if avoidance is what you think is helping you control yourself and the feelings you have with this person, you are working to change something that is not yours to change. It is the goodness of God that changes people, not our co-dependent relational habits disguised as caring about people. Avoiding the relationship to control your self is really more about self-righteousness than it is about control. Whew, I am worn out just thinking about it!

You see, grace gives the space for circumstances and people (including ourselves) in our lives to change. Grace gives us the space to allow self-control to be part of the gift, not an action in which we have to fight! Of all of the fruit of the spirit, none of them are ours to be worked for – against such there is no law – they are ours for the taking. Consider our study in the book of Ephesians. In Ephesians 1:13-14 it says this:

“…when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession…”

Do you see it!? When we believe in Him we are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, He guarantees our inheritance so we can possess ALL that God has for us by His grace. The verse goes on to say, “for the praise of HIS glory!”

You guys! That is exciting stuff right there! You don’t have to ask God for more patience, or more joy, or more self-control!! YOU ALREADY HAVE IT sealed on the inside of you – it’s a promise! And God doesn’t break His promises.

Those six little words – “Against such things there is NO law,” change the game! You can NOT work to gain self-control. You can try for as long as you live, but until you accept the fact that you don’t need will power anymore, that you already have Holy Spirit power, you will fight til the end without freedom from whatever it is. If you have to work toward a self-care day, finding no rest or peace in the days surrounding it on your much too busy schedule, you are not walking in step with the self-control provided by the Spirit. You are walking in law. You are trying to attain something that you already have! “Against such things there is no law.”

Be encouraged. Read this list of what you already possess inside of you through the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Read it again, and again, and again, until you are fully convinced!!

Braving grace means thinking outside of your old ways and toward a life that sets you free from thinking it is about you in any way. It is not about you. It is all for the praise of His glory!

Be blessed and have an amazing day of brave grace! “Against such things there is no law.”

Love, Angela

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