I always knew that God had a sense of humor, but today it reaches a new level. The last Spiritual gift on Paul’s list in Galatians 5 is self-control. In some of our recent events, both from over the summer and more recently, I would imagine that people in our church would love to take comments back that they made. They might not take back their feelings, but the words that were said, in the way that they were said… I imagine that they would take many of them back.
What is perhaps most unique about this gift is that the others are gifts that are expressed outwardly. But self-control is directionally opposite. It is first and primarily expressed when it is applied inwards, and what could be said or done is not.
I think Paul included self-control in his list of Spiritual gifts because he knew a little about human nature. He knew that when we, or someone we love, are wronged in some way, it creates a guttural, instinctual, response of protection that often takes place before we can think. So it is helpful to understand what the goal of self-control is. Its purpose is to make sure that the Law of Love reigns among God’s people, as they deal with one another and with the world around us.
When the Spirit gifts us with self-control, it allows us to express our disappointment, our sense of betrayal, and even our anger in constructive and instructive ways. But sometimes it is too late for that, and what has been said or done cannot be taken back. That is when self-control finds its secondary and outward expression; we will ourselves to make right what we did wrong.
It takes courage and amazing will power (self-control) to do that, and the outcome is not certain. People are not always ready to return to right relationship, and while their initial response may not be what we hope, they will remember the courage and self-control it took to seek making things right.
So as this applies to our church, my prayer is that through our practice of the Spiritual gift (remember, Spiritual means that we cannot do this without God) of self-control, we can be propelled into a season of renewal and growth, but most importantly, a season of love and grace