I don’t like New Year’s resolutions. Not anymore. I think it’s wonderful that a new year inspires many to make positive lifestyle changes, but why wait for the New Year to start? I found out a long time ago that it didn’t really work for me. Those resolutions I made out of good intentions never seemed to take root. I would revert back to my old ways or habits after a few months and wonder why in the world I made them in the first place so I just don’t make them anymore. Instead, I want to make changes in my life all through the year. And I want those changes to last.
Let’s face it, sometimes change is hard. Breaking bad habits, overcoming addictions, softening hard hearts, tossing out rotten attitudes…it all takes work; like training to run a marathon, lifting weights to build muscle, aerobicizing (is that a word?) to strengthen the heart. Making positive changes requires discipline. Perseverance. Endurance. Self-control.
I’ve struggled with a sugar addiction for years. I call myself a sugar addict, but I don’t know if the medical experts agree on that term. All I know is I’m hopelessly out-of-control when it comes to sugar. I eat way more than I should. I want it morning, noon, and night. I’d rather have a bag of cookies than a healthy dinner. I can’t eat just one cookie out of the bag…I eat the whole bag! I can’t eat just one small bowl of ice cream…I eat the whole half gallon. In one sitting! The same goes for cake and pie and candy. I drown my coffee with flavored creamers and double the fudge in my hot chocolate. Oh, and let’s not forget the brown sugar in the oatmeal and honey in the tea. Any time I can add sugar to the five, some say six, food groups I’m sweetly satisfied.
The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with one slice of cake after a meal or two cookies with a cup of afternoon tea, but I lack the self-control to do this and self-control is a fruit of the Spirit.
Uh-oh. I don’t like the sound of that because I want to be a fruit-bearer. I don’t want my branches lacking in purpose or withering in function. Just because self-control is the last of the nine fruits listed in Galations 5 doesn’t mean it’s not important.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Galations 5:22
Lack of self-control means I’m not letting the Spirit control “ME.” If I want to bear more fruit in my life then I need to make changes that reflect the Spirit at work within me. That means I need more than physical food. I need Jesus.
“Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.” John 15:4 & 5
I’ve learned I can never get enough of Jesus. I have to be so hopelessly addicted to Him that when my brain tells me I need a “sugar fix” I can feast on His unfailing love instead and be satisfied. Honestly, it doesn’t come naturally, but if I really want more of Jesus in my life then, for me, that means I have to choose Him over a slice of cake or bowl of ice cream some days. And sometimes it’s hard ’cause I really, really want the cake.
I have to choose discipline. I persevere. I endure. I practice self-control. I depend upon Jesus to help me because I can’t do it without Him and you know what? After a while, I find there’s a sweetness to life that doesn’t include sugar at all. Every time I say “No” to self I’m saying “Yes” to Him. Somehow, no jumbo-white-chocolate-macadamia-nut-cookie compares to the perfect fruit of the Vine.
Maybe one day I’ll have this self-control-thing down pat, but if I don’t start with my sugar addiction it could spread to other areas of my life and that scares me. I don’t want to lose all my branches, even though I know I need pruning every now and then to produce the most fruit possible. I want my roots to run so deep that no fire, no flood, no storm of life can destroy the hard work I put into training my body to reflect the work of the Gardener.
SoOooooo…here’s to a year of fruit-bearing, my friends…may our branches grow strong and produce an abundance of self-control in all areas of our lives. Let’s do Vine-life together where we stay connected to the true Vine…the One who makes life truly sweet. Let’s resolve to make positive changes that last all year long. Why wait for another year to start?