A City With No Walls
This week I taught on the last of the fruit of the Spirit that Paul mentions in Galatians, which is self control. One of the verses that I referenced, and which was included as a memory verse challenges for the youth, was Proverbs 25:28, which says, “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.”
This verse, in my opinion and in its wonderful simplicity, offers us a perfect image for the importance of self control. We may not have walls in most of our cities today, but the analogy still works. At the time of Proverbs’ writing a city with no walls was a city with absolutely no defenses against whatever enemies might come knocking, it was a city that was left completely vulnerable and that could be easily taken advantage of, looted, and destroyed. In the same way, a person with no self control leaves his or herself open to attack, not only to the adversary and his demons, but also to the general and innumerable challenges that simply existing in this broken and sinful world poses.
Without self control we are completely vulnerable, susceptible to being taken advantage of, and likely to reap destruction upon ourselves.
Yet, a city with no walls was likely defenseless because of a lack of resources, or perhaps because, as the verse states, the walls had previously been broken through. With a person and self control, this is not the case. When we lack self control and become vulnerable to attack, we do so out of neglect or our own free will. As Christians, we are meant to nurture and grow the spiritual fruit that are made available to us by the Holy Spirit. As Christians, we are obligated to take control of ourselves–our bodies, our minds, even our lies and possessions–so that they are protected from the influences of the flesh.
This is a difficult task. This is an endless battle. Nevertheless, this is what we are called to do. Plus, there are tons of advantages! A person without self control, and as a result makes constant impulse decisions as they are pulled to and fro by their selfish desires, is likely to be in financial peril, have compromised physical health, have few positive relationships and perhaps several negative relationships, and perhaps worse. To be clear, I am in no way implying that these things are caused only by a lack of self control. I am, however, stating the fact that lacking self control makes an individual more vulnerable to the kinds of decisions that can lead them down that path. On the flip side, if you are determined to nurture and grow your self control, you can reap the benefits of the sort of patient and thoughtful decision making that is so difficult to sustain when the world is Lord of our lives.
I am someone who has struggled with gluttony and sloth most of my life, and I continue to struggle today. Since these are socially acceptable sins, people have often ignored my sins in these areas, even encouraged me that it was perfectly normal and ok. The problem is, it wasn’t, and it isn’t. I have been on a journey to exercise greater self control over these personal weaknesses of mine, and as I have found success I have found increased peace, health, energy, confidence, productivity, and more. I have also saved money, saved time, and been a better influence on the people I love (specifically, my wonderful wife).
Yet, the walls are in danger of falling at any moment. It is important, as a believer, that I am continuously vigilant against my own shortcomings, and that I don’t leave “city” (or temple, if you prefer a more common metaphor for the body) unprotected as I chase after earthly pleasures.
Self control helps us be stronger, more productive members of the body of Christ. I pray that you will join me in strengthening that muscle in whatever areas of your life it is needed most!
Good luck, and God bless!