Summary: The final sermon in a series of 10 sermons on the fruit of the Spirit.
1. This morning I begin my last sermon in this series on the fruit of the Spirit. I hope you’ve been touched and challenged as we’ve looked at each of these. None of us are mature in every fruit of the Spirit. Perhaps you’re very strong in the love, joy & peace departments, but struggle with patience. You may be patient, but you don’t have much gentleness in your life.
2. My goal in this series of sermons has never been to make you feel guilty about the areas where you need to grow, but to challenge each of us.
3. It was actually this final fruit of the Spirit, that originally prompted me to begin to think about doing this series of sermons. That’s because of how rarely I see people living a life that demonstrates self control. Self control impacts our lives in numerous ways. Here in the US we our struggle with self control is made obvious by the fact that so many of us are carrying around extra weight. Consider these statistics:
Roughly (1 billion) people in the world suffer from the effects of malnutrition.
Roughly ( 75% ) of Americans are overweight.
A full ( 33% ) of us are clinically obese.
We spend over ( $30 billion ) annually trying to lose weight.
4. I thought about a lack of self-control when my brother shared with me some months ago about the problem he has with getting good workers at the sawmill he manages for my father. I couldn’t believe it when he shared how often when he gives a worker a raise, they simply begin showing up for work less. He said that many of them know what it takes to feed their families & once they have earned that much they just don’t show up. These workers don’t have enough self-discipline to earn a little more so their families can get ahead. Some people would be tempted to call these workers foolish, but those with very basic jobs aren’t the only ones who need more self-control.
5. If you’ve watched the news lately you’ve heard the story of the game between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons that had to be stopped. The trouble in the game began when a fan threw a drink at Pacers player, Ron Artest. He promptly went into the stands after the man. The game had to be stopped and when fines were eventually handed down, Artest will not be allowed to play for the remainder of the season. That means his fine will be the equivalent of a little over $4 million since he won’t get paid for the games he misses. Here is my observation, how can someone disciplined enough to become a professional basketball player lose his temper so badly that he has to miss most of the season? Therein lies the real challenge for all of us. Most of us have areas in our lives where we are quite disciplined & other areas in our lives where we are not disciplined at all. Am I wrong or can you relate to this is in your own life? That’s what I thought.
6. I invite you to join me in thinking about this final fruit of the Spirit this morning. I trust that God will speak to you through my words. Let’s turn to the Bible once again & read the passage that has been my text for each of the sermons on the fruit of the Spirit.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (NAS 95)
Let’s begin with an interesting first point. . .
I. Self Control-- The Spirit’s Contradictory Work
1. Let me start basic & work up to more information. Let’s begin with the meaning of the word. You know the New Testament was written in the Greek language, so let’s go back to the Greek word used here.
The word translated "Self-control" or "Temperance" comes from two Greek words--
EN which means In
KRATOS which means Strength or Power
2. Long before the time of Paul, ancient philosophers, like Socrates, considered this word to be the virtue that was the foundation of all others. In fact, one of Socrates’ students once summarized his teacher’s view on it like this: "Shall not every man hold self-control (same Greek word) to be the foundation of all virtue, & first lay this foundation firmly in his soul? For who without this can learn any good or practice it worthily?"
3. As if that isn’t clear enough you’ll all heard of the ancient philosopher Plato. He wrote about self control with these words in his famous work, "The Republic." Because it was so important to them, they did a lot of thinking about it. Look at what he wrote.