The greatest victories are often those we win over self.
Robert Taft was an Ohio Senator from 1939 to 1953. Once, while delivering a speech in hostile territory, a heckler heaved a tomato hitting the senator on the chest. The tomato exploded, sending pieces of red shrapnel over Taft’s face, glasses, and hair.
Put yourself in Taft’s shoes. How would you respond? Would you fold up your speech and walk away, figuring that you were not welcome? Would you fire back at the tomato sniper? Or would you pause to wipe your face, clean your glasses, and then proceed?
Taft did none of the above.
He didn’t shoot off a round of verbal counter attacks. He didn’t retaliate with a menacing glare. He didn’t even acknowledge the incident. He simply continued as if nothing happened. Senator Taft finished the speech, stepped off the platform, wiped his face and glasses, bid those nearby a fond farewell and left – to a standing ovation.
Self-control . . . it is the will’s ability to apply the brakes when selfish desires begin to speed out of control. In Taft’s case it meant choosing to ignore an insult. In our situation it might mean saying, “No” to temptation or “Yes” to extra time in prayer. It is the power to choose what is right when what I want to do is wrong. Proverbs puts it this way:
Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. Proverbs 16:32 ESV
Taft’s clothes were stained, but his reputation was gleaming. He endeared friends and probably won over a few critics. Self-control does that. It brings the thrill of victory because the greatest battle – the battle over self – has been won.
Interestingly, the battle for self-control is not won with self’s power. It is the fruit of the Spirit! Yielded and submitting to Him, the Spirit of God provides the power to rule over that which seeks to rule over me.
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.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.If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:18-26 ESV
May God give you the grace to "keep in step with the Spirit" today.