Control. We want it. We think we have it until we don’t. We love having control over our lives. We like to plan and control all the outcomes. We can play this game for only so long until our plan fails and everything falls apart—especially when it is not what God had in mind or when circumstances beyond our control happen. What is our response? Self-control or angry seeking of more control?
What we really need is self-control as we realize all control belongs to God. There is a difference between self-control and supreme control. Self-control is giving up all control to God. Have I confused you, yet? We cannot predict what will happen in the next hour, day or weeks ahead. By calling on the help and power of God’s Holy Spirit, we manage our self-controlled response to what happens. Self-control is one of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. It comes at the end of the list. It is probably the hardest fruit for us to grow and bear. It requires giving up control that we think we have and growing in the self-control response according to what God wants in our lives.
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 22-23
We begin to grow in self-control responses in life with Christ when we lay our lives before Him;
“Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12:1-2, Msg
Friends, give God complete control. Allow the Holy Spirit to grow the fruit of self-control in us as we respond to all that happens around us. All the above mentioned “fruits” are the characteristic behaviors of God exhibited in Jesus! Want to be like Jesus? Give up control to the Holy Spirit’s powerful work inside us to grow and bear the fruits of His Spirit. If we get in the way with our selfish clinging to worldview thinking and behaving, we hinder our growth. Lasting change only happens by the power of God’s Spirit. We cannot just decide to change on our own without His help. That’s still holding on to control. We must lay down our lives before Him each day and ask Him to transform our thinking and behaving. This is healthy, growing self-control fruit that bears more holy behaviors.
Self-control is exhibited in Jesus, who is our Perfect example of “fruit bearing” in our next passage in Matthew. When questioned about His authority, He could have destroyed them with just a word. Instead, he asked them a question that stumped the religious leaders trying to trap Him so they could kill Him. His time was approaching to complete the mission—but not today. Self-control of Jesus was giving complete control to God and His Plan. The Plan was to save us all from sin and pay the debt through sacrifice once and for all. But not today.
Authority is the question of the day, but ultimate self-control is what I see in Jesus when I read this passage.
What do you see?
Matthew—God’s Word Fulfilled
Matthew 21:23-27, NLT
The Authority of Jesus Challenged
23 When Jesus returned to the Temple and began teaching, the leading priests and elders came up to him. They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right?”
24 “I’ll tell you by what authority I do these things if you answer one question,” Jesus replied. 25 “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human?”
They talked it over among themselves. “If we say it was from heaven, he will ask us why we didn’t believe John. 26 But if we say it was merely human, we’ll be mobbed because the people believe John was a prophet.” 27 So they finally replied, “We don’t know.”
And Jesus responded, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things.
I lay my life before you. We don’t know what you know. So, reveal what you want then help me to think, say and do what you ask. Continue to transform my thinking and ultimate behaving as I grow closer to you. Give me wisdom in this world to respond with self-control knowing you have complete control over every situation and circumstance.
In Jesus Name, Amen