“A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.” Proverbs 25:28
Self-control is so important. Solomon tells us that it’s like the walls around an ancient city: if they’re up, it’s protected; if they’re down, it’s open to attack.
Paul tells us that self-control is one of the results of the Holy Spirit’s power dwelling within us (Galatians 5:22-23).
Peter tells us to “make every effort” to build it into our lives so that we can be productive and useful in our knowledge of Jesus (2 Peter 1: 5-9).
Self-control is a team effort: something that the Lord develops in us as we partner with him in saying “no” to the desires of our flesh and “yes” to the workings of his Spirit. It’s as essential as having our anti-virus software up and running; enabling us to get our work done without getting done in.
I find that for me, self-control is rarely an all or nothing proposition. If I’m lacking it, it’s usually in a key area such as eating poorly or spending too much time in front of a screen. The rest of my walls may be up, but with that one section vulnerable to attack, my whole life can suffer.
When we struggle with self-control in a specific part of our life, it’s easy to focus on “getting the wall back up” and neglect to examine why it fell down in the first place. It’s worth asking, “Why am I so vulnerable to attack in this particular area? Why have I neglected to strengthen this part of the wall?”
This is where prayer, self-reflection, Scripture, community and a host of other things can come into play. Discernment and revelation are required to move past the what into the why.
Thankfully, the Spirit of God is very interested in leading us into truth. If there are deeper issues involved, he wants to tell us about them and show us how to be free. But it requires courage and humility to ask, listen, and change.
There aren’t always root issues involved, but when there are, here’s what I’ve found: without a willingness to look at the “why”, we may get one wall rebuilt only to have another one crumble. And this is a colossal waste of time.
Whatever the cause, we all need self-control to live fruitful, productive lives. Without it, we are weak. With it, we can be strong.