The sweetest fruit I can think of is the cantaloupe. I’ve grown cantaloupes in my garden for several years, and eagerly anticipate cutting open a ripe one and savoring the sweetness straight off the vine. It takes several months to grow a cantaloupe vine from seed, but when the vine is full, it can produce many cantaloupes in a week. The hardest part is waiting until the fruit actually falls off the vine on its own, and then waiting until it is fully ripe to cut it open. But, when it’s ripe, the sweetness is worth every minute of the wait.
And so it is with self-control. Of all the examples of the fruit of the spirit, I would argue that it is the sweetest. Right. Go ahead and roll your eyes. Self control is not always fun, but hear me out.
At the core of each ripe cantaloupe is at least ½ cup of seeds. Those seeds can easily produce plants that will produce more fruit. The cantaloupe vines can also take over an entire garden and choke out every other plant in it. I’ve grown many cantaloupes the past two years. What I haven’t grown is cucumbers, because the cantaloupes choke the cucumbers out. Last year I managed to have a few cucumbers because I did a better of controlling the growth of the cantaloupe vines. Controlling those vines, like pruning tomatoes, ultimately brings considerably more produce.
Those vines are somewhat like words and actions in my mind. If I can control my impulses so that God can be in control of my words and actions, then I am bearing fruit. But where it all starts is the seed, and the seed represents our thoughts. Paul wrote this to the Corinthians:
We are destroying speculations and and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5
If I don’t hold my thoughts captive, they will imprison me! I used to think self-control started with my words. If I could just hold those back, then I would be fully representing God. But then I realized I speak volumes when I don’t say anything at all, and my body language can reflect my thoughts even when I do control my words. Having the discipline to hold the thought captive in the moment it comes across and shift it in that moment brings the most self-control and the most freedom.
I can’t count how many hours and nights I have spent thinking and worrying and letting my thoughts imprison me. I’m now committed to the freedom that Jesus gave me on the Cross, and the best way I know to do that is give Him control, one thought at a time. As Paul said,
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence, and if there is anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8
About the Writer:
Wendy is a wife and mother who works full time in Risk Management. Here at First Dallas she serves in Sunday school, helps coordinate Angel tree, and teaches at Discipleship University. Her greatest joy comes from discovering how following Jesus can greatly impact her daily life and the lives of those she cares about in innumerable, practical ways.