Monthly Archives: July 2021

Fruit of Self-Control – Sat – 21-07-31

Leadership is an essential skill needed in many areas of life. Corporations are especially interested in developing leaders. They often have training and mentoring programs to encourage leadership development. So, what do you need to be a leader? Well, several skills and qualities are needed. But one is self-control. Listen to the words of Chris Farmer, a corporate coach in the United Kingdom, “But there is one leadership quality which is of the highest importance. It is important because this leadership quality is the prerequisite of many other subsidiary leadership qualities. The quality I am referring to is the quality of self control.”*

In fact, Farmer goes on to declare five areas where self-control is required for a business leader. Can you guess the five areas? They are control over thoughts, temper, fear, speech and bad habits. I think the one most people overlook would be control over fear. But think about it. Leaders often have to lead others through uncertain times and situations.

This emphasis on leadership reminds me of Titus 1:8. Paul speaks of the qualities needed for a leader in the church. He wrote, “Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.”(NIV) See, self-controlled leaders are also important in the church!

Today, let God’s Spirit lead you to develop control over your thoughts, temper, fear, speech and bad habits!

*Chris Farmer, “Leadership Qualities: Self Control,” Corporate Coach Group,

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Fruit of Self-Control – Fri – 21-07-30

Self-control is in demand. A search on Amazon shows over 30,000 books matching the search term self-control. 726 of the books had been published within 30 days of my search. 61 additional books will be published soon. One of the titles is The Power of Discipline: How to Use Self Control and Mental Toughness to Achieve Your Goals. Another book is Control Yourself: Science-Backed Practices To Boost Your Self-Control & Pursue Your Lifelong Dreams. Here’s another,

Building Strong Self-Control: Complete Guide To Develop Greater Willpower & Work At Peak Productivity. You can tell from these titles that the authors know self-control is important and in demand.

Now I have not read these books. They may have some helpful information. But this brings us to another contrast with the fruit of the Spirit called self-control. That contrast is the source of the power over our lives. Many books are written claiming the source of power for change is our own efforts. If we just have enough toughness or follow the right techniques, we can develop will power. But the fruit of the Spirit is more than tips and techniques. It is God at work within us to provide us moral strength. So, the source of self-control is more than our efforts to do the right thing. We are strengthened through God’s Spirit. Aren’t you glad you have Spirit-help and not just self-help to be inwardly strong?!

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Fruit of Self-Control – Thu – 21-07-29

This week, athletes have provided us pictures of self-control. They can also illustrate the opposite. Some athletes don’t control their tempers, leading to penalties, injuries and losses. Jeff Nilsson compiled a list in 2015 of the “Top 25 Most Undisciplined and Dirtiest Players in World Football.” Nilsson was looking at the sport Americans call soccer. One of the players on his list is Luis Suarez. Here’s what Nilsson wrote about him: “Wherever Luis Suarez has gone controversy has gone with him. He deliberated handled the ball to prevent a Ghanaian goal in the World Cup in South Africa, he has bitten three players, been at the center of a racial abuse allegation and also had his own share of diving allegations. It really is too bad that all of this baggage will be with him for the rest of his career because the Uruguayan footballer can be fantastic when he’s focussed[sic]. Whether on International duty or playing for his club, Suarez can be absolutely unstoppable. Unfortunately, his competitive side gets out of control and with it his temper and voice of reason.”*

Have you ever known someone who had a lot of talent, but their lack of self-control sabotaged their efforts? Maybe they were undisciplined or lacked restraint. This is one reason why God has given us his Spirit – he desires us to have self-control. Follow the Spirit’s leading to live with self-restraint.

*Jeff Nilsson, “Top 25 Most Undisciplined and Dirtiest Players in World Football,” The Sportster, January 8, 2015,

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Fruit of Self-Control – Wed – 21-07-28

In 1977, some athletes in Hawaii were debating whether runners, swimmers or cyclists were the most fit. John Collins suggested that they hold a triathlon that combined three distance events on Oahu to determine who was the most fit. The one who finished first would be called the “Iron Man.”  Fifteen men started the race in February of 1978. This informal event became one of the most famous endurance races in the world. Today, over 170 Ironman triathlons are held each year in scores of countries around the world.

Could you do it? You would start at 7 a.m. with an ocean swim of 2.4 miles. Then you’d immediately bike 112 miles. You’d finish — or should I say what finishes you — is climbing off the bike and running a marathon, 26.2 miles. If you are a top athlete, you would finish the race in less than 12 hours.

What does the Ironman have to do with self-control? In the original language, the word self-control has the nuance of endurance. If you are running the Ironman Triathlon, your desire to quit must be controlled. In 1982, Julie Moss fell just yards short of the finish line. After hours of exertion, she was suffering severe fatigue and dehydration. Yet she crawled the final yards to complete the race.* In some races, just finishing is the victory. Keep this picture in mind to understand self-control.

*”Ironman Triathlon,” Wikipedia, last updated June 24, 2021,

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Fruit of Self-Control – Tue – 21-07-27

Have you ever struggled with your will power? Most people have at least one area where they struggle to live as Jesus intends. For some it is the outbursts of anger when others upset them. Or they just love to gossip. For others, it is food — or certain types of food. You know, I can easily turn down brussel sprouts. But baked goods are more tempting!

Some desires are very powerful. People can actually become addicted to drugs and alcohol. Others struggle with sexual purity — whether mental or physical. For them, pornography and hooking up are the struggle. Let’s face it. Some things seem to enslave us. The apostle Paul spoke of his own lack of self-control in Romans 7:15. He said, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”(NIV)

In I Corinthians 7:9 Paul uses the word for self-control in the context of living an abstinent life. In the context, he was advising the unmarried to remain unmarried because of the crisis they were experiencing in their society. He was not commanding people, but giving his opinion. If they had the self-control, he thought it better that they remain unmarried because of the crisis. This shows us that self-control can be more powerful than our strongest urges.

Struggling with self-control? Don’t we all! We all need God to give us self-control!

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Fruit of Self-Control – Mon – 21-07-26

When I was in high school, I played on the football team. Our coach put us through intense training. We did exercises, ran laps and wind sprints and drilled on the fundamental skills. But that’s not all the coach expected. He also advised us on getting to bed at a certain hour, eating certain food and avoiding other foods. He also told us to avoid things that could damage our performance such as smoking. We were in training. Athletes at all levels follow similar training programs. Professional and Olympic athletes not only have coaches to teach the movements and skills of the sport, but have nutritionists who advise on the amount of calories, carbohydrates, proteins, fat and water to consume. Serious athletes follow strict training rules!

In fact, athletes were doing this nearly two thousand years ago. Listen to what the apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:25, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”(NIV) Here Paul compares the training discipline of an athlete with living the Christian life. We are to live for Jesus with the same energy as running a race or boxing in the ring.  The word translated “strict training” is the same concept as self-control. We must have “strict training” because we are living a life with an eternal outcome!

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Fruit of Self-Control – Sun – 21-07-25

Have you ever noticed that people are interested in power? Often, they are like Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor on the old television series Home Improvement. Tim always wanted more power! He modified tools and appliances to have more power. Of course, the extra power didn’t always turn out the way he imagined, but that’s what helped make the show fun!

Gamers are one group interested in power. They want more power in the computer consoles or PCs they use to play graphic-intensive games. In fact, more powerful computers have been a focus for decades. Intel once had an advertising campaign focused on the slogan “Intel Inside.” Their campaign declared that the Intel sticker on a device told you it had “a real power source inside.”

Aside from computers, everyone is interested in having power over their own lives. We want to make our own decision and to control how and where we live. We also are interested in having will power to pursue our goals.

This week, we are focusing on the fruit of the Spirit called self-control. It is also about power. The word translated “self-control” comes from a combination of the word power with the word in. The concept is being inwardly strong, of having power over yourself. As followers of Jesus, we have been given God’s Spirit to transform our characters. We have a real power source on the inside!

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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.

Fruit of Gentleness – Sat – 21-07-24

We live in interesting times. Around the world, attacks against Christians have doubled in recent years.1 In the United States, Christian values are often shouted down on campuses and in the virtual public square. Small businesses are sued because they refuse to engage in activities that violate their faith. Here is Dr. James Emery White’s reflection: “In current American culture, you are free to be a Christian as long as you don’t actually live out your faith, vote your faith, take a stand in relation to your faith, or believe others should embrace your faith.”2 He wrote that nine years ago. It is even more true today.

So, how should we respond in an increasingly hostile culture? Do we demand our rights? Do we agitate for change? Do we shout out our convictions? No, we use gentleness, sometimes called meekness. We respond without fear, but we make sure we are not harsh in our response. Here’s how Peter said it in 1 Peter 3:15-16, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,  keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

May God’s Spirit make us more gentle — more meek — each day!

  1. Christopher Vondracek, “Attacks on Christians double since 2017,” The Washington Time, April 22, 2019,
  2. Dr. James Emery White, “Are Christians in America Under Attack?”, February 23, 2012,

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Fruit of Gentleness – Fri – 21-07-23

Did you know that some celebrities are known to have a bad temper? Of course, you did! But did you know you can find a listing on the internet of the 12 celebrities known for big temper tantrums?* It was published in 2014, so I’m sure it would need to be updated today. Reading the list you see people who quarrel, are quick to anger and have had intense conflict with others – often captured on video. They are the opposite of gentleness or meekness.

But, being quarrelsome is not confined to celebrities only. Most of us fly off the handle at one time or another. We really do need God’s Spirit to produce gentleness in us.

Listen to 2 Timothy 2:24-26, “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”(NIV)

Did you catch that phrase about gently instructing those who oppose him? It takes a lot of strength to respond to opposition with gentleness rather than anger. Perhaps that’s why we need the power of God to produce that gentleness in our lives.

*Kaye L, “12 Celebs Known For The Most Dramatic Temper Tantrums,” The Richest, December 20, 2014,

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Fruit of Gentleness – Thu – 21-07-22

Have you worked to develop your leadership? Leadership is an important quality. People often want to be the leader, whether that is being the captain of the team, the president of the class, the manager in business or leading in the community. Leadership is also in demand. Companies and organizations spend a lot of time and money developing leadership in employees.

So, people work on many things to improve their leadership. They learn to organize themselves, manage a project, read a budget and speak in public.  They also pay attention to the way they dress, how to meet others and shake hands, and how to mingle and converse in informal gatherings. But, would you work on meekness in order to become a better leader?

One of the misconceptions people have is that leaders are not meek. Brett Simmons believes that meekness is one of the most undervalued virtues of leadership. He is a consultant that teaches leadership in college MBA courses. He approaches the virtue from a secular standpoint, so some of his concepts don’t always align with the fruit of the Spirit. But I think he is right when he says, “Meekness is my response to your initiatives directed at me.”* In other words, it is the ability to absorb and dissipate what another thrusts at you. When others are irritating or harsh, meekness responds correctly, but not harshly, to produce positive results.

If you are a leader, or developing leadership skills, remember to focus on meekness.

*Brett L. Simmons, “Strong Meekness: An Undervalued Virtue Of Leadership,” August 21, 2011,

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Fruit of Gentleness – Wed – 21-07-21

I’m sure you have experienced a burn before, right? They can be painful! Just a minor burn on the finger can hurt. Also any abrasion of the burned skin hurts more. When I was in high school, I remember someone having a bad sunburn on the back of their neck. Another student reached up and scratched the burn with fingernails. The poor victim yelped in agony. And that was a minor burn.

Can you imagine what it is like to have second and third degree burns that require hospitalization? How gentle the nurses and doctors have to be in treating those wounds! Even then, I’m sure it can be excruciating for the patient. Sometimes the treatment can’t avoid causing pain. But I’m sure they are careful not to cause any more pain than necessary to heal the patient. This is a picture of gentleness.

The same gentleness is needed in dealing with others when giving spiritual first aid. Paul wrote in Galatians 6:1, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.”(NIV)

One place we need gentleness is in encouraging others struggling with sin. We can’t come across like fingernails raking a sunburn! We need to be soothing, but still address the situation, even though it may be painful. This gentleness is how God deals with us.

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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.