This was written by my friend Jerry Peterson. I appreciated it so much, that I thought I’d post it.
Logically speaking, the very word “self-control” implies that, in fact, there is a degree of control that must be employed in each of us. Undisciplined emotions – and uncontrolled impulses – do exist, and may unpredictably surface many times each day.
If you will, notice in Galatians 5:22-23 that the word fruit is singular. Observe also, that if any one of these characteristics are absent, none of the other qualities can fully bloom. On this point, I reference 2 Peter 1:5-8, where Simon Peter includes the other virtues with characteristics of the fruit (including self-control). Verse 8 indicates that all of these qualities are to be increased simultaneously, not sequentially, or one without the other.
For the purpose of this assignment, I selected “self-control” because in my understanding, this particular characteristic, or branch of my tree, is the on that has recently been pruned and is being blessed with growth, by grace through faith. The other fruit has not been subdued, nor is it docile – it’s just getting ripe. Each branch of my tree has been and will be pruned in it’s on season. It seems that, at present, the opportunity for growth of this “self control branch” is prevalent and in it it’s season. John 15:2: “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit (sinful nature), while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
One more point: John 15:4 “… no branch can bear fruit by itself…” There is a vast difference between “works” and “fruit”. “Works” might suggest a factory, complete with pressures, deadlines, and the constant need to produce. But, “Fruit” pictures a peaceful tranquil garden, a place where we are inclined to stay and drink in the beauty while we enjoy each other’s company.
It’s important to realize that God doesn’t come to His factory looking for products. God the Father is not the CEO. He is the Gardener (John 15:1) and comes to His garden to enjoy it’s fruit.
Imagine the luscious fruit hanging on a peach tree. The peaches aren’t out there struggling and working day by day trying to get ripe; all they have to do is hang in there. This development is the natural result of a grace based, personal relationship. As long as they are abiding, the branches will bring forth sweet fruit.
A big mistake, it would be, to be more interested in what we do than what we are. God looks for fruit, some try to produce works. We cannot improve on the righteousness given to us by God. Any works based relationship is unfruitful, and soon becomes a grind in which we lose the “joy” of our relationship with the lord. In John 15, Jesus paced the emphasis not on what we do, but upon what we are… Friends – not slaves.
May we all abide in the true vine…