Proverbs 25:28 (NLT) "A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls."
Titus 1:8 "Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined."
What does it feel like to be out of control, to lose your rag, to say things that you shouldn’t have, to condemn someone and hurt them? It is often difficult to button your lip, as the ‘expression’ goes?
I remember many a time when my children were of toddler age and bang on cue, would have a meltdown in the supermarket. They would lie down, kick, scream and cry. Perhaps as adults, we have more self-control than this, but then again, who knows? What drives us to lose control?
Society doesn’t talk much about self-control. Our society is full of Stoic’s. Stoicism appeared as far back as the 3rd century, when the school of Stoicism was founded on ancient philosophy and ethics, founded by Zeno of Citium. Maybe you were brought up in a generation that told you to put on a brave face, to belt up and endure hardship? Were you told to deal with your struggles by yourself? This might be known simply as controlling yourself.
We look across Gods creation now and see people struggling to control themselves; in holding back their anger, their pain, their torment. We see it in the number of deaths that are reported through Covid-19. We see it as injustice prevails with racism. We even see it during the peaceful protests, that get out of hand. This is where self-control loses its grip and can get ugly.
In the bible, Paul addresses the church of Galatia, calling them to be free and not indulge in the flesh. Self-control is the last fruit of the Spirit. But not the least. The fruit comes from Gods nature, which moulds us, through the working of the Holy Spirit. Then we are loving, gentle, holy and disciplined.
Our additional scripture is from the book of Proverbs 25.28. It gives us an interesting image of how life looks without self-control: ‘A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.’ To put this verse in its original context, we jump to Nehemiah, 1.3. He was told that the city of Jerusalem had no walls. Without walls all sorts of animals, robbers and armies could attack the people. He wept, fasted and prayed to God.
We need a wall around us, we need boundaries. I don’t mean a wall of imprisonment, but a metaphorical wall to hem us in a little. We have God to help us with this. That is the difference between stoics and believers in Christ. For we, as followers of Christ lived our old lives, gratifying the cravings of our flesh as it says in the book of Ephesians. But now we are alive in Christ and through him, we have access to the Father, whose image we are made in, with his nature.
Thank goodness we have God’s Holy Spirit to help us maintain self-control; who helps us to ditch the urges and redirect our desires. When we pray and ask, he will enter in and rescue us.
I don’t know about you, but I want to live a life of love; a life with God; loving others. If I were to leave a legacy, it would be that Kate was full of God’s love and she showed the face of Christ to others; and was full of peace and goodness. What would your legacy be?
This week, why don’t we reflect on an area of our lives where we lose control? There may be challenging situations we face right now? Ask for his Holy Spirit to help you as you respond. As it was for those waiting in fear in the upper room, let us join in that ancient old prayer, ‘come Holy Spirit.’