But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:22-24).
In Christ, we have been taught to exercise self-control. It is a trait of The Lord and it is one we should practice. Love is the pinnacle of who God is. God is Love (1 John 4:8). Joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are how the love of God is expressed. Self-control is how we choose to demonstrate love. The mature Christian should be in control of her thoughts, tongue, and deeds. The less mature Christian should be striving toward that discipline.
We choose to obey the commandment of the Lord or we choose to turn to the left or right and fulfill the desires of the flesh. The Lord had been conforming you, Believer. He has been disciplining you through the trials and the wilderness you have experienced. Verses 1-7 read,
“You shall therefore love the Lord your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always. 2 And consider today (since I am not speaking to your children who have not known or seen it), consider the discipline of the Lord your God, his greatness, his mighty hand and his outstretched arm, 3 his signs and his deeds that he did in Egypt to Pharaoh the king of Egypt and to all his land, 4 and what he did to the army of Egypt, to their horses and to their chariots, how he made the water of the Red Sea flow over them as they pursued after you, and how the Lord has destroyed them to this day, 5 and what he did to you in the wilderness, until you came to this place, 6 and what he did to Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, son of Reuben, how the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households, their tents, and every living thing that followed them, in the midst of all Israel. 7 For your eyes have seen all the great work of the Lord that he did.”
To love the Lord with your entirety you must know Him. To know who God is you must spend time with Him. To be discipled, one must experience discipline. Moses said, to consider the discipline we have experienced, to think about and remember who God is and has been to us. What trials have you experienced? What sins brought those consequences? Who did you become as a result of the discipline you underwent? What did the Lord do in the midst of the wilderness? The Lord made you able! He has changed and grown you. You were once a slave to the prince of the world like Israel were slaves to Pharaoh. Now Believer, you are free, a warrior, a king, and a trusted confidant to the King of kings. Verses 8-12 read,
“You shall therefore keep the whole commandment that I command you today, that you may be strong, and go in and take possession of the land that you are going over to possess, 9 and that you may live long in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give to them and to their offspring, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10 For the land that you are entering to take possession of it is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and irrigated it, like a garden of vegetables. 11 But the land that you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven, 12 a land that the Lord your God cares for. The eyes of the Lord your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.”
Before you knew Jesus as your Lord and were freed from sin, you had to work hard for your provision. You had to plant the seeds and water them. You had to go to the river with buckets, fill them, carry the heavy burden back to your garden, and repeat the trip until the entire garden was watered. But now in the Promised Land, God takes care of the land and He is your provider. He sends the rains to water your fields. He sends the sun to feed the crops. He takes care of The Promised Land for you. He knows everything that will happen and we only have to trust Him, to love Him completely and know that He is sovereign. He is. We have a choice. We can choose self-control and obey the great commandment or we can let worries and fears creep in and turn our focus from The Lord to ourselves. Verses 13-17 say,
“And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil. 15 And he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full. 16 Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them; 17 then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that the Lord is giving you.”
Obedience to God comes with promises of blessings and disobedience comes with promise of curses. The curses are for our own good; they are meant to bring us back to remembering who God is. Isn’t it better for you to remember your past discipline rather than suffer it again? We have self-control; we can choose to exercise it. There were several instances in the wilderness when Israel whined about how good they had it back in Egypt under the tyranny of Pharaoh and the oppression of slavery. They whined whenever they took their focus of the Lord and worried about how they would eat or drink. They didn’t have a good time in Egypt. They were oppressed, their children murdered, and their backs broken and whipped. They chose to forget their suffering and focus on their needs. God promised if we focus on Him by loving Him with all our hearts, souls, and strength He would bless us with an abundance. But how many of us hold back part of who we are and choose to worry about how we will provide for ourselves, how we will take care of the problems, or how we will do what has to be done? That is not worshipping and trusting the Lord; that is worshipping and trusting ourselves. But have no fear, God will let you live in Egypt if you choose to and go back to watering your garden instead of letting him rain on your fields.
How do we ensure we are keeping the great commandment? How do we keep The Lord our focus? We choose to meditate on His Word, we choose to know the Lord through His word. We study and pursue Him and we choose to keep the great commandment. Verses 18-25 read,
“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.20 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth. 22 For if you will be careful to do all this commandment that I command you to do, loving the Lord your God, walking in all his ways, and holding fast to him, 23 then the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier than you. 24 Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours. Your territory shall be from the wilderness to the Lebanon and from the River, the river Euphrates, to the western sea. 25 No one shall be able to stand against you. The Lord your God will lay the fear of you and the dread of you on all the land that you shall tread, as he promised you.”
Put God’s words on your heart, set them before your eyes, bind them to your deeds, teach them, and make them the heart of our speech from waking to sitting, to walking and to sleeping. What is the whole commandment? Moses reaffirms it in verse 22; it is “loving the Lord your God, walking in all his ways, and holding fast to him.” And The Lord reiterates that keeping the whole commandment comes with a promise. He does not promise to barely care for us, He promises that all the enemy’s strongholds will be banished, that everywhere we choose to walk in Him, will be ours. Whatever part of our lives we give to Him, every part of ourselves we want changed from old to new, every fleshly desire we hand to Him will be given back to us new. No part of who we are has to remain a slave to sin. We can be the righteousness of God. Why did Christ die and resurrect? Did He do that so we could become a flickering candle or a shining lampstand? Did He lay down His life and take on all our sin so we could hold onto our sins ourselves? NO! 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 says,
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
You are not a slave to Pharaoh. The Father called you out of Egypt to The Promised Land. Jesus delivered you. His Holy Spirit has made you new. Love the Lord, your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind. Pursue the Kingdom of God wholeheartedly and let Him shower you with abundant blessings and provision. Matthew 6:25-34 reminds us,
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Believer, you can choose to obey or you can choose to disobey. It is up to you, you have self-control and must choose to exercise it. It is a fallacy to say you cannot control yourself. It is a lie from the accuser who longs to enslave you to say you can’t choose obedience. And it helps to remember who God is, He is The LORD. He chooses to send the rain and the sun. He chooses to bless and He chooses not to bless. Verses 26-32 read,
“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known. 29 And when the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, you shall set the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. 30 Are they not beyond the Jordan, west of the road, toward the going down of the sun, in the land of the Canaanites who live in the Arabah, opposite Gilgal, beside the oak of Moreh? 31 For you are to cross over the Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you. And when you possess it and live in it, 32 you shall be careful to do all the statutes and the rules that I am setting before you today.”
The promises of God are waiting for you. It is time to choose self-control, obey The Lord and be blessed. Worrying is not loving the Lord, worrying means you have put yourself in God’s throne. If you choose to sit there, He’ll let you. But He has also promised to let you experience the curse of Egypt so that you will choose to take possession of the Promised Land.