Here we are, waiting at the Port-au-Prince airport. We’ve got a long day of flying, and driving, in order to get home. This is the first time in over a week that we’ve had reliable broadband internet connection, too, if you couldn’t tell. Amy’s watching a video of her granddaughter, Bruce and Donna are checking their email, Dawn is reading the news, and Matt – well, Matt is admiring the picture he took of the ONE Haitian we found wearing a Duke shirt (admittedly, we never saw a KU shirt). I’ll be buying Matt a beer later. (I need to remind my wife to send a couple of KU shirts to Haiti for next year.)
I want to take a moment to thank everyone for your prayers, and for your financial support. It’s encouraging to know that so many are thinking and praying for us while we are here, and we hope you know that as we serve in the name of Christ in Haiti, we represent the whole body of Christ. You are here with us, in Spirit and in prayer, and we are one in ministry together.
As we finish our trip, we also complete our study on the Fruit of the Spirit, focusing today on Self-Control. That Paul should conclude this list with something like Self-Control is important. To walk in the Spirit, to live like Christ, to be a disciple, by definition, is to live a life of Self-Control. We engage in the battle against sin in the flesh – we deny ourselves and take up our cross daily. Self-Control is saying “no” to sinful desires, but its more than just saying “no.” You say no to the life of the flesh, and “Yes” to the life of the Spirit, the life of Christ.
Self-Control is holding your tongue, knowing when not to speak, and knowing when to speak, and to speak the Truth with Love. Self-Control is more than just restraining the rage and anger that can quickly burst out when wronged or offended – it is denying that rage and anger a place in your heart in the first place. Self-Control is the discipline of the athlete who denies himself even some of the “good things” this world has to offer to keep your heart fixed on the “great things” of God’s Kingdom. Self-Control is living in such a way so as to not disqualify yourself from the ministry of the Gospel – letting everything you say and do be to the glory of God the Father.
Of course, as with all the other characteristics of the life of the Spirit, this virtue of Self-Control does not come naturally, but is the gift of God’s presence in our lives. How do we grow in this gift? Zechariah tells us it is “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”
God’s Spirit produces self-control within us through grace, enabling us to see and trust all that God is for us in Jesus Christ. Paul says in his letter to Titus that the grace of God has appeared, instructing us to deny worldly desires in the present age (Titus 2:11). When we see and believe what God has done for us by grace through Jesus Chirst, the power of wrong desires is broken, so that we might fight the good fight, and take hold of the eternal life to which we have been called (1 Tim. 6:12).