Part Two—The Grapevine

Have you ever seen a grapevine? It grows and grows and spreads and spreads until you have no more room left and it is out of control. Grapes are easy to tend to, in terms of watering, because the vine chokes out most other plants in the area. But keeping it within the proper confines is difficult. Grapevines need to be pruned and trimmed back every so often in order to produce more good fruit, and trimmed occasionally to prevent that rampant growth.

Much the same is true with information. Someone tells something to someone else, who tells another person the same story with only a slight variation. That person tells it to someone else, with another slight variation. Pretty soon, these variations start to add up and turn one thing into a something totally different. But how do you prune gossip? A lot of times, people simply do not. They wait for it to lose momentum and then play damage control.

But it is possible, with the help of some discipline, to keep it from going on. This method is called self-control. And a lot of people refuse to accept it. The idea is to take some responsibility and some initiative and stop the gossip before it spreads further. Unfortunately, this also requires some accountability, which is what tends to scare people off. When you do slip up and do continue the cycle, you have to be accountable. You have to go to the offended and reconcile.

All in all, it is simply a matter of asking forgiveness when you screw up, and trying not to screw up in the first place. You need self-control to resist the temptation to spill the proverbial beans. With it, you can prune that grapevine into a good vine that produces the other spiritual fruits, and you can cultivate a good friendship with people who know they can trust you.

But self control can be applied to many other areas besides social networking. Smokers, for instance, try to exert some self control when trying to quit the habit. It takes a lot of effort, however, to quit a habit. That is why you need to learn to bear this fruit of the spirit at an early age, to discipline yourself for later years.

Prayer, conviction in the Spirit, and someone you trust to keep you accountable for slip ups are the best ways to do just that. But out of the three, prayer is certainly the most invaluable. As one of my professors said, "If you don't pray, you die!" He was not speaking figuratively either. Without prayer for self control, you can die spiritually, and socially. Eventually it can lead to much worse problems then just a lack of human companionship.

So pray in the Spirit, asking for conviction of your transgressions (this is something I do regularly), so that you know not to do it again. Pray for self control, pray for understanding, and most of all pray that you are not the only one praying.