Paul addresses the issue of self-control in the list of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and it appears that her ends the list with the one quality that just might hold all the others together.
A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls. (Proverbs 25:28)
In ancient times, cities were often surrounded by walls for their protection. If those walls were breached in any way, the city became vulnerable to attack from all sorts of enemies and invading armies. The maintenance of city walls was of constant concern. Nehemiah heard about the walls of Jerusalem being broken down and his soul was so deeply troubled that he wept, mourned and fasted for days (Nehemiah 1:3, 4).
Proverbs 25:28 compares self-control to a city wall. When we maintain self-control, we keep ourselves safe from forces that would drag us down, attack our weaknesses, and prey on our failures. The Bible warns us that losing our self-control can lead to disastrous results. We may have tendencies to lose our tempers easily, gossip about neighbors or coworkers, or criticize those in authority. We may have an unhealthy desire to own lots of stuff, an addiction toward food, or an obsession with television. A careless word, a broken promise, or a disrespectful action is an outward sign that our inner wall of self-control has collapsed. Weak self-control makes us vulnerable to living a life of hypocrisy, and then we lose all credibility as a witness to the freedom and joy we have in Christ.
Developing self-control is not just a matter of “willing” right behavior. We all have experienced the “just do it” break-down. We decide that we will finally regain control of a certain personal weakness only to find a few days later that we have fallen once again to that temptation. Self-control is not as simple as just “doing it” or “not doing it.” Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit desires to guide our lives. Only he can overcome our sinful desires and build self-control. As we turn our daily routine over to the direction of the Holy Spirit, we will find that we are more often able to resist those things that used to prey on our weaknesses. It is with the power of the Holy Spirit alone that our walls of self-control can be securely maintained.
Application: Take an inventory of your life and pinpoint your areas of weakness. Allow the Holy Spirit access to your desires, attitudes and lifestyle, and have the courage to make changes as needed. It’s one thing to desire the Spirit to control us, it is another to allow the Spirit to control us. Take courage, self-control is a life long process of God working on us to conform us to the image of his Son. Make progress each and every day. Rejoice in the victories and seek forgiveness and reconciliation when you fail. Encourage one another because there is strength in numbers!As you lead, take others along with you; pass on the qualities of leadership that God teaches you.