22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
For this “fruit of the Spirit”, I had to turn for the Bible commentaries for some help. One of the sources I often trust defined self-control as “the discipline of one’s impulses and desires”. This may be the place where this listing really is a response to a previous list in Galatians.
Verse 22 of Galatians, Chapter 5, begins with the words “by contrast.” What we see as the fruit of the Spirit is in contrast to “the works of the flesh”:
“Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21 envy,[e] drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)
Self-control is how the Spirit helps us to discipline our impulses and desires so that we won’t be involved in impurity, sorcery, jealousy, anger, drunkenness, and the like. And self-control is one of the fruits (or gifts) that we receive from the Spirit. I don’t know which particular desire or impulse is ready to drag anyone down (the list is long and graphic), but it’s good to know that the Holy Spirit is ready to help us resist and enjoy the wonderful life that God intends for us.
Wonderful God, You know where I tend to go wrong in life, and how much better it would be for me if I instead go right. Empower me this day with the self-control to make the decisions today that I will still enjoy tomorrow. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen