Self-Control: How A 4 Year Old Speaks For Most Of Us

My wife and I have been teaching three and four year olds at our church. Yes, it’s a circus every Sunday – a lot of fun!! It’s not only fun, it’s educational. The ideas that pop out of their little minds are sometimes hilarious, untraceable, confusing, always transparent, and very often, brilliant.

Recently we taught the Fruits of The Spirit to them. We were teaching about Self-Control, one of the fruits of the Spirit, and one of the four year old girls ended up illustrating a great truth to me.

Teaching the Basics of Self-Control

In order to help the kids understand self-control, my wife found a great activity. We bought small bottles of bubble liquid to blow bubbles with. We gave one to each of our helpers so they could blow bubbles when we asked them to. The idea of the activity was to allow the kiddos to pop the bubbles during the first round. We would then challenge them to keep from popping bubbles during the second round.

The Real Challenge

When the bubbles began floating, we said, ‘go’ and you might imagine what that looked like. They popped those bubbles with joy and abandon! It was so much fun to watch the glee in their faces. When it was time for the second round, all the kids sat stone still. To our surprise, all of them refused to reach out to pop even one bubble. That is, almost all of them.

About 3 seconds into the ‘no-bubble bursting’ round one little girl couldn’t contain herself and simply popped everything she could reach. We encouraged her to practice self-control – nope. With a grin and a sparkle in her eyes she didn’t even slow down.

After the activity we all sat down for a lesson on Self-Control and how Jesus showed self-control. During the lesson I asked the little bubble popping girl a question, ‘Missy, what do you think about self-control?’ Without any hesitation, she confidently belted out in slow drawn out words…


I lost it with laughter. In fact, everyone but the other three and four year olds were nearly doubled over laughing. What a transparent answer!

I started thinking that if I could be completely honest with myself I’d probably say the same thing. And then I started thinking how difficult self-control is. That’s why it’s a fruit of the Spirit. It’s a God empowered virtue. As I continued to think about it I began to get excited.

I got excited because, as a fruit of the Spirit, self-control is actively being developed in me as I walk with God. He is making self-control possible. I don’t have to conjure up some discipline from within. All I need to do is cooperate. As the Spirit works, I obey.

And I hope that encourages you. Take a look at the passage below and imagine applying the qualities to your relationships. If every one of your relationships was with people who were exercising these traits – what would that be like?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

The Great News

For every Christian who is in a relationship, the Spirit of God is actively working these qualities into them. As we cooperate with the Spirit, our relationships will begin to heal and grow. So the challenge is not to gut it out and work up some sort of self-enable control. The challenge is to give up the fight and ask God for this fruit. Give yourself over to the Spirit and allow Him to do the work. How? Simple.

Pray: My heavenly Father, I can’t make myself good. I can’t create these good virtues within myself. Only you can do that. Will you help me? I want to have these virtues in me for your glory. Will you show me how to cooperate with your Spirit so I can have a great relationship with you and everyone else I know? Thank You Father, I love you, Amen.
Do: Whatever He shows you to do.