For a long time in my life, self-control has felt like nothing more than others trying to control me and drain my life of all kinds of fun, enjoyment, and amazing life-long memories. However, I soon found out that my lack of self-control led to a lot of hurt, unfortunate regret, and memories I wish I could simply erase from my mind and past. For myself, and perhaps for you too, I often tended to look at self-control as something meant to control me, when in fact self-control is designed to protect me. You may ask, “How can self-control protect me?” Let’s first look at Proverbs 25:28. It says,
“A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.”
This description is quite vivid. Look around you today and you will see that any modern city without walls is an open invitation to crime, looting, and destruction. And this kind of city leads its citizens to feel unsafe, vulnerable, and scared. In this verse, we are told that a person without self-control is like such a city. None of us who struggle with self-control want to be compared to such a reckless and dangerous city, but our own lack of self-control will invite destructive behaviors and patterns into our life and choices over time. And our lack of personal self-control may cause those closest to us to feel unsafe, vulnerable, or even scared of the next “slip up” or confession. I have learned that if I want to thrive in my walk with God and create an environment of safety and trust with those closest to me, then self-control needs to be a part of my overall spiritual foundation as well as my daily walk. Because if it isn’t, then my lack of self-control (or yours) may just destroy whatever little foundation we still have standing. Remember, even though the power of sin was defeated at the cross, the presence of sin is still in this world. How are you prepared to stand firm against that presence?
Like walls protect a city, self-control is designed to protect us. God’s Word clearly shows us that our sin nature and hearts are inclined towards evil (Jeremiah 17:9, Mark 7:21, Psalm 51:5). Self-control protects us from our inclinations towards sin; choices that end up hurtful and destructive towards others and ourselves. Self-control, as a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and through the power of the Spirit, is part of the foundation that allows us to walk in the ways of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16).
In closing, I would like you to picture in your mind a ship’s anchor. When let down, an anchor prevents a ship from drifting off from its desired spot. I used to view self-control as an anchor that restricted my freedom and every sinful desire. Instead of being secure in the fact that I was “anchored” in one place unable to drift off, I sought the freedom I thought I would find in the “open sea”. I soon ended up in places I came to regret and eventually found my life looking like a shipwreck. And a shipwrecked life only serves as an example of a lack of self-control and freedom abused. I have come to see that I will eventually run aground if left to drift aimlessly about, but when I, or perhaps even you, anchor our lives to God’s Word we can have full confidence in knowing that we are tied to a foundation that can not, will not, nor has it even been shaken, disturbed or overtaken. When God’s Word is our anchor, and we are walking in the fruits of the Spirit, we will soon see that self-control isn’t controlling us but protecting us and those we hold dear to our hearts.
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