We glorify the uninhibited self in popular culture today. The culture says that the one who advocates limits is not “with it”, reactionary, and irrelevant. How stark is the contrast one gets when reading the Bible, though. My heart’s desire is that God’s people would find joy in God’s limits, given for our own good. Today, I’d like to extract a few principles on self-control from a single proverb (Proverbs 25:28), presenting a brief commentary in note form:
He whose spirit is without restraint Is like a city that is broken down and without walls.
Principle 1: Self-control is the best kind of control to have.
There is a contrast drawn between the military victor and the one who controls his anger. Note that the writer is not saying that military conquest is necessarily bad; only that self-control is better. Essentially, if you fail to do one of these two things, it is better to fail as a military man.
Why is this principle true?
1. The most important struggles in life are spiritual, not physical (Eph 6.12, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood”)
2. God’s intention for man is to exercise dominion over creation; to whom much is given, much is required; how can one exercise dominion over creation and not have dominion over himself?
3. Jesus refrained from controlling others (seeking political advance), but did make it his objective to control himself (for example, he endured temptation)
4. Key question to ask: am I more concerned with making others do what I want than making myself do what I should?
5. The fruit of the Spirit consists of self-control, not other-control; self-judgment before judgment of others (note the log in your own eye)
6. Application questions:
6a. Marriage: Is it better to have control over your emotions when your spouse makes you angry than to put on a nice show as a happily married couple?
6b. Family: Is it better to have control over your emotions if your kids disappoint you than to have stellar kids that regularly suffer under your angry outbursts?
6c. Work: Is it better to have emotional control during difficult situations at work and get laid off than to advance to the highest rung in your career while being abusive to others?
6d. School: Is it better to have control over your emotions when you get an F than to be a star pupil who stabs other students in the back?
6e. Self: Is it better to be an unmarried, never-been-on-a-date kind of person with physical and moral purity than to be popular with the opposite sex while having an addiction to pornography?