22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22-25)
The Bible has much to say about self control. One area of our lives where it is hardest to exercise self-control is with our emotions. We must strive to keep them rooted in truth instead of letting our circumstances control them for us.
It is very important for us to not base our emotions and reactions in present circumstances. If we do that, our reactions will be all over the map. Instead, we should root our emotions in truth and be able to respond accordingly. When we root our emotions in truth, we are able to remain grounded when things don’t go our way.
People who have untethered emotions also have untethered reactions. Emotions tethered to truth enable us to sensibly assess all aspects of our present difficulties. If you do not have your emotions tethered to truth, you make assumptions and draw conclusions that also aren’t true.
An example of self-control would be when someone does something that hurts you. You have the choice to root your emotions and your response in the immediate hurt, or you could respond based off of the general character that you know that person possesses.
The second response is the self-controlled response. We should not throw the entire past away the moment someone makes a mistake or does not perform the way we expected or desired. This does not only apply to how other people treat us. When things do not go the way we had planned, we have the opportunity to keep our emotions tethered to a trust in God’s character and control or to simply let them ride on the unstable waves of this life (Romans 8:28).
When we keep our emotions connected to the truth of God’s goodness, we are then able to maintain self-control in the midst of the storm. The storm does not have to disappear in order for your God honoring self-control to be present. Your focus must change. You must shift from focusing on the storm and letting it dictate your reactions to focusing on the presence of the Lord who never changes and will never forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6, 8).
This was true of the apostle Peter when he stepped out of the boat in the middle of the sea in the midst of a ferocious storm. His confidence was rooted in a focus on Jesus Christ alone. He lost that confidence when his focus shifted back to his present circumstances (Matthew 14:22-33).
Another area of our lives that is greatly impacted by tethered and untethered emotions is marriage. When we have untethered affection toward our spouse, it is merely circumstantial. When times are good, feelings are good. When times are bad, feelings are bad. But when our emotions are tethered to truth, then no matter how hard times are, feelings remain the same.
Our love must be rooted in commitment instead of circumstances. This is the definition of unconditional love (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Recognize that people and the circumstances of this life are not eternally dependable. Do not tether your emotions to them. Tether your emotions to truth and to Jesus Christ who is dependable and never changes. It is then and only then that you will be able to exercise self-control.
Make sure your responses to life’s circumstances are controlled. Temporary emotions cannot be trusted and should not be allowed to drive our reactions. Every experience in life is an opportunity to magnify the presence and glory of God.
While things may catch us by surprise, they will never catch Him by surprise. So always keep your emotions rooted in truth and be led by the Spirit of Truth. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Rev. Brian Moore is pastor at New Providence Baptist Church, 2560 Highway 41, Smarr The Pastor’s Corner is sponsored by the Monroe County Ministerial Association, which meets on the second Thursday of each month at 8:30 a.m. at Christ United Methodist Church, 417 N. Frontage Road, Forsyth.