Proverbs 28:25 says, “A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.”
When I read that verse, a number of thoughts come to mind. Considering the context, it’s important to remember that when the proverb was written, cities had literal walls surrounding them. The walls were high and strong, and meant to protect from any attacking enemies. If a city’s walls were broken down, it was open to threats from the outside. Putting myself into the meaning, I become that city. Without self-control, I open myself to contaminates surrounding me. My mind is to be considered a city, treasured and worthy of the protection that self-control enables.
But in order to have a protected city (mind) I need to understand what self-control is and how I can use it. Several years ago I had a mentor who explained self-control in a way that has stuck with me ever since. Self-control is allowing the Lord to control your self. Sounds kinda crazy, scary, weird, backward, right? But when you think it through, it makes perfect sense. He is the only one I would completely trust to come in and be that wall of protection around my whole being, especially my mind. I know that trying to do this all on my own does not measure up to what can be given to me, if only I allow myself to receive it.
So HOW exactly do you have self-control? Our minds are invaluable. Everything we do stems from what goes on inside our minds. There are countless forces, attractions, fears, goals, addictions vying for a spot in our minds. All the time. While I wholeheartedly believe that a healthy dose of goals, fears, etc., in balance, is a good thing, it’s when they CONSUME our thoughts that they become a distraction, pulling focus away from our purpose and our identity in Christ. Honestly, there have been several things recently that I have allowed to enter my mind because I was not practicing self control–mainly unwarranted fears. I’m gonna get real practical now; just ASKING God for self-control is a good way to have it. He’s, after all, the source of all good things. I believe that we also have to do our part (make a conscious effort, every day) to help keep our minds clean. Having self-control is a habit that can be difficult to start and difficult to maintain. But just like maintaining a healthy diet will positively influence our physical bodies, so will practicing self-control positively influence our minds.
The discipline of self-control takes a humbled mind to allow your eyes to be shifted back to what’s most important, and then a confidence (which I believe God will provide FOR you) to know that you’re strong and able to withstand any threat of pollution. These may be things that in thought, we know, but in practice—well, just like any other discipline, can be just as easy to quit as they are to say, “I’m in.”
With the attractiveness of consuming (material pleasures; houses, cars, shoes, clothing, FOOD), society lures us in to believing we NEED everything. How many websites have you scrolled today? See any advertisements? How many commercials have you watched today? How many political Facebook posts have you “Shared” just because you maybe kind of agree with the opinion being portrayed but really you just want people to “Like” your post because of the attention it brings to you? Yeah? That last one was a reality check. I don’t mean to say that complete abstinence from any pleasure of life is the way to go, but what I need to ask myself is this: Is self-control being practiced AT ALL? It’s not always easy, glamorous, or popular, but self-control will be the loyal friend that can protect your mind, your treasured city, if you let it.
*Photo is the Windsor Castle, London, England, taken in 2011