Like a city breached, without walls, is one who lacks self-control.Proverbs 25:28
Let’s take one last look at the fruit that we bear when we abide in Jesus. Jesus assures us (in John 15) that he is the vine and we are the branches. And when we stay attached to Jesus, we will naturally bear his fruit. What is that fruit? Paul identifies this fruit in Galatians 5, in a list that he calls “the fruit of the Spirit.” They are: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” These are qualities of a spiritual life that naturally occur when we abide in Jesus. I have looked at eight of these so far: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness. Now let’s look at the final one: self-control.
When we take time to abide in Christ, we are promised more than love, joy, and peace. We are also promised self-control. But when we don’t take the time to abide in Christ? We are “like a city breached, without walls,” in the colorful language of Proverbs (Proverbs 25:28). We are no longer in control of whatever life throws at us. Our emotions take over, and we end up losing our temper, or giving into despair. We find ourselves “self-medicating” with alcohol, binge-watching television, overeating, and on and on. The city is breached, and our self-control is lost. We do things we regret, get discouraged, and do them again. We just can’t seem to break the cycle.
So, what’s the answer? Not to be overly simplistic, but the answer really is found in Jesus. He wants to help us by walking alongside us. “Come to me,” Jesus says to all who are weary. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me” (Matthew 11:28-29). How does this help us with our self-control? Think of how much more faithful we are at exercising, for example, when we have a partner to keep us accountable. Why is that? Because we are pooling our self-control together, making both of us stronger. And this is what happens with Jesus when we take his yoke upon us. We are partnering with Jesus, and this makes our self-control stronger.
And something else quite wonderful happens when we yoke ourselves with Jesus, that also helps our self-control: We learn that there is love beneath our frustration, joy beneath our sadness, and peace beneath the turmoil of our life. When we respond to Jesus’ invitation to come to him and take his yoke upon us, we discover all of the fruit of the Spirit named in Galatians. We are reminded that there is a steady, loving presence behind all of the trials and tribulation of life. We find strength in Jesus’ promise to “be with us always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). We see that this promise is real and true and the greatest of all gifts. We abide with Jesus, hold onto his promise, and find all the self-control that we could ever want. Thanks be to God!