Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: Self Control

“The fruit of the Spirit…is self control.” Galatians 5:23

“Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.” Titus 2:2

“Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children,” Titus 2:4, 5

“Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.” Titus 2:6
“I am not of course, suggesting that these immortal longings which we have from the Creator because we are men, should be confused with the gifts of the Holy Spirit to those who are in Christ. We must not fancy we are holy because we are human.” (Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis, p.151)

A friend of mine in a Middle Eastern country drew my attention to a quotation from a book, The Arab Mind by Raphael Patai.

“For the Western mind, the strangest and most fascinating of all these contrasts is undoubtedly that between self-control and uncontrolled outbursts of emotionalism… In the Arab world, no such onus attaches to loss of self-control or outbursts of temper. Quite the contrary: such seizures are expected to happen from time to time, because in the Arab view of human nature no person is supposed to be able to maintain incessant, uninterrupted control over himself. Any event that is outside routine everyday occurrence can trigger such a loss of control and turn the docile, friendly, and courteous Jekyll into a raging, dangerous, and maniacal Hyde, who will return to his former self as soon as the seizure of temper passes… The Arab communicates by shouting accompanied with signs of anger. When bargaining in the market place, he yells and squabbles (Patai 160-161).

The commands in Titus were given to Christians in Crete who had the fruit of the Spirit. They were not commanded to do something that they could not do.

There are two other kinds of self-control, will power self-control and peer pressure self-control or a combination of the two. These are not the fruit of the Spirit.

In a Muslim culture where there is no saving special grace the fruit of the Spirit is not in anyone. There is little or no peer pressure for self control. So we have a society of anger. This is normal. Everything else is abnormal. What kind of culture are you in?

Are you counting on your will power or on the Holy Spirit?

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