There is a lot to be said in the Scriptures about self-control. We know that is a Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23), it’s the result of a life lived in Christ. Proverbs adds beautiful and sober imagery to self-control and allows us to view it not as theory but as practice. It creates the image of the life of a person existing as a city. Each city is often placed near water in order to be able to irrigate crops which provide food and also for the obvious, so that those within the city won’t die of thirst.
The city was often placed in a position where it could most easily defend itself. The walls were thick and tall and meant to protect the people within its walls as well as to keep intruders out. Let’s look at the great city of Jericho’s dimensions:
The mound, or “tell,” of Jericho was surrounded by a great earthen rampart, or embankment, with a stone retaining wall at its base. The retaining wall was some 12–15 ft high. On top of that was a mudbrick wall 6 ft thick and about 20–26 ft high (Sellin and Watzinger 1973: 58). At the crest of the embankment was a similar mudbrick wall whose base was roughly 46 ft above the ground level outside the retaining wall. This is what loomed high above the Israelites as they marched around the city each day for seven days. Humanly speaking, it was impossible for the Israelites to penetrate the impregnable bastion of Jericho.
What does this have to do with self-control? EVERYTHING.
It doesn’t matter how strong your desire, how great your ambition, or how mighty your resolve. If you lack self-control you are simply inviting the enemy into the fortified city of your life. No matter how great the walls are, one area of absence in self-control can cost us EVERYTHING. Here are some examples:
FOOD: Lack of self-control affects energy and invites sickness and disease. This limits your ability to do what God has called you to do. It allows for excuses, embarrassment, and lack of confidence and can lead to an early death leaving behind a family who was robbed to soon of your love, presence, and support.
DRUGS/ALCOHOL: Coming from a family who has a history of alcohol abuse, I see the immediate impacts. Wasted money, lack of financial security, verbal and physical abuse, neglect, etc. Should I really go on about this one?
SEX: An addiction to sex (outside of marriage) destroys a life in so many ways. If married, affairs destroy trust, break apart the family unit, and ruin relationships. Do we need to get into the other areas (bestiality, pedophilia, homosexuality, rape, sex trafficking, pornography )?
SLEEP/LAZINESS: People who refuse to get up waste time and are ineffective. They lack control of their schedule and in doing so force others to dictate their pace instead of taking control of their own lives. Then there is laziness.
I went past the field of a sluggard, past the vineyard of someone who has no sense; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds and the stone wall was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest- and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man. – Proverbs 24:30-34
What area of your life lacks self-control? What enemies are you inviting into your fortified city? Are you prepared for the destruction that will follow?