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 5:22-24)
Emotions are tricky things. They often sneak up on you and take you by surprise, and other times they slowly build like a too hot volcano before erupting. Emotions can then overwhelm, and you find yourself lashing out or doing something you know to be wrong. Should you be a student of the law, you would point out that Section 54 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 discusses “loss of control” as a “partial defence to murder”. Prior to that, these incidences were known as “crimes of passion”.
Self-control is the ability to restrain your emotions. To say no to impulses or desires as they begin to rise. It is putting your head in charge of your heart, and detecting your emotions. Are they legitimate, or something you’ll regret in ten minutes time? Is this really the best way to behave? Shouldn’t this temptation be resisted?
We are hampered in all this by the influence of advertising, which seeks to play on our deepest desires. “Just Do It” urges Nike, “You’re Worth It” is the verdict of L’Oréal. Each Christmas Marks and Spencer like to tug at our heartstrings, and every trip to the supermarket ends with the display of sweets at the checkout.
Self-control may not be a quality much valued in the modern world, but it does speak of someone who is at ease with themself and possessed of a deep peace. It is a product of patience and an abiding joy in life. It is a quality of someone who is kind and good, who is trustworthy and doesn’t think too highly of themself. It is, in other words, a fruit of the Spirit which builds on all others. It is the eventual mastery over yourself.