Self-Control?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22,23.

Last night I was thinking about the process of sanctification and how the Lord seems to purify me (in a contemporary American colloquialism, “go to town on me”)  of certain things over the span of several  years. What I mean is, I can look back on my life and think, “That was a period when I was really learning the basics of trust and peace.” By that I don’t mean that I’ve got trust or peace down, but that it seems that the Holy Spirit has lasered in on certain impurities that inhibit Christ from being fully formed in me. The Spirit then goes to work in the only way the Spirit can to purify me of them–to get them out of my system or mostly out.

If I should be tempted to fall back into those ways, the ways of the old self  in a specific area like distrust or anxiety, I reflect on what the Lord did in the past, on the lessons he taught me. I have recorded many of those lessons in  journals and even on this blog. Indeed, I often reread what I’ve written on here because I need the truth to sink into the depths of my soul, into my inmost being, so that there is truth in the innermost parts. So they are recorded and serve as pillars like the 12 stones of rememberance that the Israelite priests, at the command of God, set up as a pillar when they crossed the Jordan at its flood stage with Joshua at the helm.

Most recently, and generally over the last three years,  I’ve been learning that God desires that I seek the charism of self-control in a particular area. When others around me are in pain or turmoil–and ask for advice (and unfortunately, sometimes when they don’t)–my inclination is to help in word or in deed. However, when it comes to words, I have to realize that words of (what I perceive are) wisdom do not have to be repeated and repeated. I am to say what the Lord has me say and leave it at that. Words quickly lose their meaning when so oft repeated. They become sounding gongs.

So brief words.

Then Silence.

On my part is better.

I can exhibit self-control by silence instead of what I’ve recently realized is my sometimes-tendency to control others with words–positive and uplifting ones at that–exhortations to follow Jesus.  Each person has a will. He/she can decide whether or not to heed the truth. God forbid that my gift of exhortation become a curse. This is a case where a strength can become a weakness without self-control.

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