A farmer is stunned when a man pulls a gun and starts shooting him. The farmer, wounded by the gun shots, runs for his life as the shooter tries to hunt the farmer down. The farmer eventually escapes with deadly injuries, but survives to tell his story.
Another man walks alongside his wife to their parked car at a side street. An assailant stabs and slashes the man's throat. He too escapes with fatal injuries but lives. The surviving victims later learn that their adulterous wives had plotted their murder.
As I watched these stories unfold on Channel 9's program Inside Story, I couldn't imagine how the victims felt. It's horrific what these men went through. To imagine that the person they loved and trusted was the very person that attempted to kill them? How will they ever trust anyone else again after such an incident? What drove their wives to do such a wicked thing?
Our connect group has been studying what the bible calls "the fruit of the Spirit" which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control [Galatians 5:22-23]. While all these attributes of the fruit of the Spirit are vital, it is 'self-control' that has caught most of my attention lately.
I believe the above incidents provide a good example of what can happen if we don't exercise self-control.
So what does it mean to have self-control?
Wikipedia defines self-control as the ability to control one's emotion, behaviour and desires in the face of external demands, in order to function in society. The Oxford dictionary defines it as the ability to control oneself, in particular one's emotions and desires, especially in difficult situations. Controlling "self" can be one of our biggest challenges. We all have our weaknesses and we are guaranteed to face temptation all our lives.
We need self-control to avoid doing what is evil or sinful. Practising self-control enables us to hold our tongue when insulted, resist punching another person when provoked, or manage our temper. Perhaps lust may very well be the reason the wives of the victims in the preceding stories committed adultery. Clearly they let their desires overrule their lives. Their emotions and desires were so out of control that it lead them to conspire to kill their husbands!
Furthermore, in an article produced for ucg.org by Don Hooser entitled "The fruit of the spirit â Self-Control: Governing your life by the Power of God", Don makes a great point. He mentions that we need self-control not only to avoid doing evil but also to avoid too much of the good things.
People often overspend (or spend more than they can afford), overeat, or overindulge in many things. Overindulgence can lead to such things as drunkenness, bankruptcy (or increasing debts), obesity or addiction. None of which are beneficial.
Is self-control attainable?
It is easier said than done. This is probably what a lot of people may think. It's that constant battle from within. Our sinful nature is in conflict with doing right by God (or the Spirit) [Galatians 5:16-17]. The reason why I've been thinking so much about self-control is because I'm currently in a position that is truly challenging my self-control.
Stressful situations at work can sometimes get the better of me, and I know that my responses in conversations are not helpful. My emotions are telling me to do one thing (the wrong thing) and yet I know I should be responding in a completely different manner (a manner that is pleasing to God).
I know I can't let my emotions rule me and neither do I want them to spiral out of control. Recognising and acknowledging where I lack, I believe is an important step towards making an improvement.
I do want to change for the better and I thank God that I have Him to help me along the way. It's not something I can do on my own but only by the power of Holy Spirit.
It's comforting to know that there is hope, healing and forgiveness in Christ Jesus. This is available not only for the victims in the stories above, but even for the criminals themselves.
Kandima Awendila was born in Mozambique and lives and works as an IT Service Desk Engineer on the Gold Coast.
Kandima Awendila's archive of articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/kandima-awendila.html