The Fruit of the Spirit Is…
Growing up, I went to a Christian school where we had chapel every week. During chapel, each class would come together and sing worship songs and do other activities that were related to the theme of the week. One of the songs we sang sticks out in my memory very clearly…it was about the “fruit of the Spirit.”
The first verse of the song goes like this:
“The fruit of the Spirit’s not a cantaloupe, NOPE. The fruit of the Spirit’s not a cantaloupe, NOPE. If you want to be a cantaloupe, you might as well hear it. You CAN’T be a fruit of the Spirit, ’cause the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control!”
For some reason, the childhood version of me really focused on that last fruit of the Spirit: self control. I didn’t really understand what any of it meant 20 years ago, but looking back, now I see why it was so elusive. Of all the fruits of the spirit, self control has definitely been the most perplexing!
Let’s go to scripture to see where the “fruit of the Spirit” comes from. In the Bible, Galatians 5:22-23 says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Before this scripture, the Christian apostle Paul is writing to the churches of Galatia about ALL the things that their human nature is pushing them to do that are wrong: sexual immorality, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, selfish ambition, drunkenness, and the list goes on. He says these things are the OPPOSITE of what the Holy Spirit encourages.
What’s So Important About the Fruit of the Spirit?
So you might be wondering, “what’s so special about the fruit of the Spirit? and why is it being written about on a holistic nutrition blog?” I love both of these questions and I am excited to answer them. But first, I want to ask you a few questions.
When you hear the word “self-control”, what feelings do you have in response? Does it bring guilt and shame? Or peace and freedom? Or neither? As you can tell by the title of this post, I’ll be sharing the positive experience of “savoring” self-control. Is this confusing for you?
I encourage you to ponder these questions for two reasons: 1) if you are not a Christian, you are welcome here and so are your doubts and questions, and 2) if you are a Christian, you already know that you have the Holy Spirit living in you and may already feel some conviction about this fruit of the Spirit in your life.
For the rest of this post, I will primarily be talking to those that fall into category #2. However, if you’re not a Christian, please keep reading! I think you will still find my answers to the above questions to be very helpful. Okay, let’s get to the “meat and potatoes” of this post!
What’s so special about the fruit of the Spirit, you ask? Well, it is evidence of the justification (your salvation in Jesus Christ) and the sanctification (your transformation journey of becoming more like Christ) you are experiencing as a Christian. Without the Holy Spirit, you cannot possess these 9 traits in their purest forms.
These 9 traits are called “fruits” of the Spirit because they are the product of having the Spirit of God living in you. There’s a part of me that loves that because of the fact that I’m a dietitian and thoroughly enjoy food references. But I also want to acknowledge that every word in the Bible is intentional. It is not a coincidence that this term is used.
Why Self-Control is Such a Vital Fruit of the Spirit for Living the Joyfully Nourished Life
Now here’s a heavy question: If all of the above is true, is it possible to adopt the Joyfully Nourished Life and still struggle with self-control? I believe the answer is maybe, and here’s why.
The Joyfully Nourished Life is about renouncing the lies of diet culture and embracing an anti-dieting approach to healthy living that is focused on honoring God with your body. This anti-dieting approach (called Intuitive Eating) allows you to regain food freedom and body trust for authentic health.
After reading this, you probably just thought “but I can’t trust my body…what it wants is unhealthy.” This is where I believe the Holy Spirit comes in. You may not have body trust now, but have you ever prayed about it? Have you ever asked God to give you self-control so that you desire what is good for your body?
My point is this: in order to embrace the Joyfully Nourished Life, you must learn to savor the fruit of the Spirit called self-control. Without it, you won’t be able to experience food freedom and body trust in a way that honors God and brings authentic health.
Think about it: the principles of Intuitive Eating are dependent upon self-control to actually work.
How can you reject the diet mentality without exercising self-control to renounce the lies of diet culture? Honoring your hunger and feeling your fullness won’t work if you don’t possess the self-control to eat when you have gentle hunger and stop eating at comfortable fullness. You can continue this argument with each of the other principles.
Scriptures for Savoring the Fruit of the Spirit: Self-Control
I hope you’re beginning to see the importance of self-control on your own unique Joyfully Nourished Life journey, Before I wrap up this post, I want to leave you with some biblical references that highlight the beauty and power of this fruit of the Spirit. Ultimately, it is a truly gift and a blessing to experience the character of Christ in this way.
If you only take away one thing from this verse, I hope it’s the fact that the imagery makes SO much sense! When we lack self-control (especially around food), it’s as if all our boundaries go “out-the-window”. It leaves us vulnerable to so many different risks, like health concerns and disordered eating patterns.
It is not uncommon to struggle with lack of self-control around food. You’re not alone, but the better news is that there IS hope!
If you have accepted Jesus Christ into your heart by confessing that He is Lord and believing that God raised Him from the dead with all power over life and death, you are saved and the Holy Spirit is inside you! This scripture tells you what kind of Spirit this is: one of love, power, and self-control.
You possess the Spirit that grants you the ability to exercise self-control around food. Period. Start believing it!
Here, we see that Peter is addressing the Christian believers in Rome while he is imprisoned. This passage of scripture is such a beautiful reminder that self-control is part of a network of qualities that shine the light of Jesus in a dark world.
As small as it may seem, your display of self-control, alongside the other godly qualities listed, can be part of helping someone else see Jesus in our modern culture!
As I mentioned above, you are not alone in your struggles with self-control. I can certainly attest to that! This scripture is often misquoted because those who use it misunderstand its meaning.
No matter what kind of self-control issues you face, God’s got you! Just trust Him in each moment of need, and He will “provide a way out” for you as He has promised here.
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Much love, friends!