A high school teacher, former procrastinators, kept a certain verse from Proverbs under the glass covering her desk top. I figured that verse helped explain why she taught us the principles she did in class. When I learned she was a believer in Christ, it explained even more.
Mildred pointed out this same proverb a few weeks ago in her comment on Self-Control and Emotions. We can close out our summer series on temptation by examining Proverbs 25:28.
“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.”
A city broken into has lost control of itself. The invaders have the upper hand, not the citizens. When its walls are down, a city has lost its first line of defense. It is unprotected and open to destruction. It invites unwanted invaders.
What invaders come into a person’s life when she lacks self-control? Such a person becomes subject to increased selfishness, unruly thoughts and habits, false teaching, meanness, etc.
The Holy Spirit sanctifying us produces fruit so that our character is changed into an increasingly more accurate reflection of Jesus. Self-control is not only one of the traits, but it is involved in the development of each of the others: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness. (Galatians 5:22-23) It takes self-control to exercise each of these.
So then, without self-control, love and joy become self-focus and sadness. Being self-focused, we could not find peace and would have no interest in patience. We’d be unkind because that requires demonstrating concern for others. We’d judge goodness by what it meant for us. We’d be unable to be faithful or gentle. This is eye-opening for me! The development of self-control has great advantages.
It’s a privilege to be taught to control ourselves. As adult believers, we grow more. To stay former procrastinators, we often exercise self-control to do what needs doing when it needs doing – work, play, or rest.
What we do in one area will influence others. I wonder … If I have a hard time controlling my eating but not such a hard time controlling my tongue, does that mean I’m just more self-focused in the area of food? What areas especially reveal our need for self-control? Am I quick to get angry? Do I eat junk? Do I leave clothes crumpled on the floor? Do I cut myself slack when I’m tired? Do I put off doing whatever is unpleasant to me?
All these relate to temptation because exercising self-control in one area strengthens me to resist temptation. If I’m sloppy elsewhere, I make myself easier prey for the enemy because my self-control “muscle” is wimpy.
When the enemy offers his bait, little or no self-control means little or no resistance to the one who would destroy us. Lord, help us build strong walls of self-control so we will be filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness.
In what area will you work out your self-control “muscle”?