New Year’s is upon us, and with it comes the desire to do things right—to lose the weight, get healthy, start a new hobby, stop bad habits, be a better mom/wife/daughter, etc.
Regardless of your goal, the key to keeping that New Year’s resolution is self-control. It’s that simple—and that difficult.
You see, if self-control were easy, we wouldn’t have a need for resolutions in the first place. We would know what we needed to do, and we would do it. No back-sliding. No grumbling.If self-control were easy, we wouldn’t have a need for resolutions in the first place. #newyearsresolutions Click To Tweet
But, as Paul said, “nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not” (Acts 7:18 NAS). Ah, the complexity of the human condition!
And since we all know that self-control is a fruit of the spirit, our inability to put down the brownies or get up early in the morning must mean that we aren’t spiritual enough. We’re not just failing in life, we’re failing in our spiritual life, too.
But that’s not so.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23 NAS).
In the King James Version, the word “self-control” is replaced with “temperance.” Both words mean that we’re able to execute self-restraint.
But that’s not really what this verse says. The original Greek word here is egkrateia (Strong’s 1466). The heart of this word comes from kratos (Strong’s 2904), which means “dominion, might, power, strength.” However, the prefix is en (Strong’s 1722), which is a preposition denoting position, such as “in” or “on.” Egkrateia, therefore, means “strength within” or “inner power.”
The beauty of Greek is its specificity. If Paul had meant “self-control,” he would have used a form of the reflexive pronoun autos (Strong’s 846), which means “self.” Since he didn’t, we know he didn’t mean that the inner power comes from ourselves.
So where does this power come from?
Jesus answered this question when He said:
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:26 NAS).
As believers, our inner power comes from the Holy Spirit!
“…for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1 Thessalonians 1:5 NAS).
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1 NAS).
“…The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6 NAS).
The fruit of the Spirit, then, isn’t our own ability to control ourselves but the Spirit’s ability to instruct us, guide us, and help us along the way.
Too often, we have godly goals, but we go about them on our own initiative and willpower. When our energy fails, we lose heart, and our goals are forgotten. Or, worse yet, we become jaded and stop setting goals all together.
Instead, the Bible tells us to put God first, and to let Him be our strength and help:
“Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it” (Psalm 37:4-5 NAS).
“Then Job responded, ‘What a help you are to the weak! How you have saved the arm without strength! What counsel you have given to one without wisdom! What helpful insight you have abundantly provided!’” (Job 26:1-3 NAS).
If you’re concerned that the God of the Universe is too busy or almighty to care about your little resolution, think again. The writer of Hebrews said it best:
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15 – 16 NAS).
This year, approach your resolutions with thoughtfulness and prayer. Then seek God’s help throughout the year as you make little decisions every day to reach your goals. Through God’s power, may you be healthier, happier, and more useful for the Kingdom in 2020!The fruit of the Spirit isn’t our own ability to control ourselves but the Holy Spirit’s ability to instruct us, guide us, and help us along the way. Click To Tweet
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