Fruits of the Spirit: self-control
And so we arrive at the last in the list of the fruits of the Spirit! Today’s introduction to Gwen Parry’s reflection is not an image, but a favourite poem of Mavis Tunstall’s by Emily Dickinson, sent in response to how she sees the Holy Spirit. It provides the perfect bridge from yesterday’s focus on gentleness to today’s on self-control. Both give a message of hope, so appropriate for us living through these times:
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches on the Soul.
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops – at all.
And sweetest, in the Gale is heard,
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chilliest land
And on the strongest Sea.
Yet never, in Extremity
It asked a crumb, of me.
Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886)
‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.’
Galatians 5: 22-23
‘Ffrwyth yr Ysbryd yw cariad, llawenydd, tangnefedd, goddefgarwch, caredigrwydd, daioni, ffyddlondeb, addfwynder, hunan-ddisgyblaeth.’
Galatiaid 5: 22-23
Gwen Parry writes:
This odd looking fruit is a horned melon, very common at this time of year in Zambia, where we live. You can buy them at the side of the road for about 4p. I can’t say they are a favourite, with a hard skin and sharp spikes that have to be cut away before eating, and tasting like a cross between a cucumber and a honeydew melon (i.e. not like anything much at all!). And when fruits such as pineapples, mangos, bananas, papaya, pomegranates and other exotic fruits are on offer, it seems even less appealing!
When looking at the list of the fruits of the Spirit which includes the wonderful love, bubbly joy and comforting peace, you would be forgiven for thinking that self-control was the ‘horned melon’ in the metaphorical fruit bowl. Difficult to get to grips with and less enjoyable to swallow.
Lots of us are currently dealing with new challenges, whether it is motivating ourselves to work productively from home, trying to not snap at the people we might have been stuck in the same house with for months, or avoiding the temptations of the biscuit cupboard. Or we might be struggling with deeper challenges of addiction or depression, which are likely to have become more difficult to control under conditions of social distancing and uncertainty.
It might not be the most exciting or desirable of the fruits of the Spirit to think about, but self-control may actually be the most freeing. In Galatians 5, where we find the list of the fruits of the Spirit, we hear about how Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the Cross brings us into a new freedom of life by the Holy Spirit.
By allowing the Holy Spirit in, and asking for help with the sinful self we so often struggle to control, we are free to enjoy the hope and joy of a full life lived with Christ.
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there, if we are LIVING now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.”
Galatians 5: 24-25
Mae pobl y Meseia Iesu wedi lladd y natur bechadurus gyda’i nwydau a’i chwantau drwy ei hoelio hi ar y groes. Felly os ydy’r Ysbryd wedi rhoi bywyd i ni rhaid i ni adael i’r Ysbryd ein harwain ni.
Galatiaid 5: 24-25
give us confidence in the days ahead,
that whatever problems we face,
whatever disappointments we experience,
whatever sorrows befall us,
we still find reason to look forward,
reason to believe in the future,
and reason to hope.
In the name of Christ.
roi hyder i ni i’r dyfodol,
a pha broblemau bynnag y byddwn yn eu hwynebu,
pa siom bynnag a brofwn,
pa dristwch bynnag a ddaw i’n rhan,
y gallwn fod â rheswm i edrych ymlaen,
a rheswm i obeithio.
Yn enw Crist.