Did you know that self-discipline is a fruit of the Spirit?
It is actually a virtue listed as self-control in Galatians 5:22-23 along with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness. Steven Lawson in his article Self-Discipline, published in this month’s Tabletalk magazine, brings to light the fact that self-discipline is something we bear as Christians not something we produce. He writes “self control is never self-generated; rather it is a work of grace within us.”
This little tidbit was quite refreshing to realize. For me, self discipline always left a pit in my stomach. I never seem to have enough within myself to do it all, say the right things and act the right way. I thought I had to overcome myself and force myself to have self-control.
But Jesus says “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5) and Paul writes that we do all things through Christ who strengthens us. The fact that it is listed as one of the fruits of the Spirit means that it is something achieved through our walk with Christ, a gift that comes as we are changed through His blood.
Further in the article, he points out that self-discipline is actually a “summation of the previous eight qualities that the Spirit produces” and that “this virtue enables us to realize all the other aspects of spiritual fruit.”
Jesus gave us the perfect picture. He tells us in John 15 that He is the vine and we are the branches. If we remain in Him and He in us, we will bear much fruit. Without the vine, the branches have no leaves or life. Without Him within us, we are dead and unable to display any of the fruits of the Spirit or bring Him glory with our lives.
“As sap flows into the branch, producing fruit, divine grace must fill the believer, producing self control. The self can never produce self-discipline. Only as Christians live under the Holy Spirit’s control can they live self-controlled lives.” ~Steven Lawson
So I guess it boils down to this: self discipline is achieved through walking and talking with the Lord. It is through Him in our lives that we will be self controlled and have access to all the other fruits.
Surrendering to Jesus and asking for His control in our lives daily and even sometimes moment by moment will unlock the self-discipline that will bring us love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness. It is through these things that we will be grounded and can remain unshaken by what comes our way in this life.