After successfully separating numerous Siamese twins and continuing to refine the techniques of several complicated surgeries, Dr. Ben Carson has become known throughout the world as a premiere brain surgeon. What many do not know is that because of an uncontrollable temper as a child, Dr. Carson’s career was almost over before it began. In his book Take the Risk, Dr. Carson writes about the day he invited God to help him deal with this critical character flaw:
One day, as a 14-year-old in ninth grade, I was hanging out at the house of my friend Bob, listening to his radio, when he suddenly leaned over and dialed the tuner to another station. I’d been enjoying the song playing on the first station, so I reached over and flipped it back. Bob switched stations again.Ben Carson, Take the Risk (Zondervan, 2008);
A wave of rage welled up. Almost without thinking, I pulled out the pocketknife I always carried and, in one continuous motion, flicked open the blade and lunged viciously right at my friend’s stomach. Incredibly, the point of the knife struck Bob’s large metal buckle and the blade snapped off in my hands.
Bob raised his eyes from the broken piece of metal in my hand to my face. He was too surprised to say anything. But I could read the terror in his eyes.
“I…I…I’m sorry!” I sputtered, then dropped the knife and ran for home, horrified by the realization of what I’d just done.
I burst into our empty house, locked myself in the bathroom, and sank to the floor, miserable and frightened. I could no longer deny that I had a severe anger problem, and that I’d never achieve my dream of being a doctor with an uncontrollable temper. I admitted to myself there was no way I could control it by myself. “Lord, please, you’ve got to help me,” I prayed. “Take this temper away! You promised that if I ask anything in faith, you’ll do it. I believe you can change me.”
I slipped out and got a Bible. Back on the bathroom floor, I opened to the Book of Proverbs. The words of Proverbs 16:32—[“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city”]—convicted me, but also gave me hope. I felt God telling me that although he knew everything about me, he still loved me… That because he made me, he was the only one who could change me… And that he would. Gradually I stopped crying, my hands quit shaking, and I was filled with the assurance that God had answered my prayer.
Uncontrolled anger has never again been a threat to me or those around me. God has provided and will provide whatever strength I need to control my anger.
as quoted in the May 3 and 4 entries of Men of Integrity (May/June 2009)
In Greek, the Fruit of the Spirit translated as self-control (enkrateia) is a noun. It is defined as ‘the trait of resolutely controlling one’s own desires (which would produce actions)’, especially sensual desires. Other dictionaries define self-control as ‘mastery over’. It is a characteristic or symptom of Christ in us.
The word sensual can be used to define many of our natural desires from delicious foods and satisfying anger to physical desires of a sexual nature. The above illustration demonstrates our fleshly lack of willful control as compared to the supernatural gift of self-control given to us as a fruit of the Spirit. While we do agree to yield to God and cooperate with Him, He provides the supernatural strength needed to control one’s own desires in whatever category or season of our lives we find ourselves facing.
Self-control isn’t something we can master alone (as in the illustration above) nor can we find relief for lack of self-control through other’s ingenuity. It is the fruit of a Spirit-filled life. We tend to view self-control in a more limited arena (well, sweets always seem especially tempting!). But the Spirit’s gift of self-control is far reaching as we shall see in our study this week.
Hope to see you all online tomorrow for our final session in the Fruit of the Spirt series. If you cannot be with us in person, feel free to download the Bible study materials for your personal use by following one of these links: PowerPoint Slides, PDF File.
You can also find the video of this session on our YouTube channel soon after the meeting concludes. And lastly, you could follow this link to download other studies in this series: Supernatural Fruit if you happened to miss one of our prior studies.