The Value of Self-Control
In the 2001 animated movie "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" (which, thanks to my children I've seen many times), all parents were abducted by aliens bent on destroying the world. When the children awoke and discovered this fact, they abandoned self-control, stuffing themselves with candy and engaged in other rude, juvenile behavior. But soon they were overcome with stomachaches and other maladies. Their lack of control was their downfall.
In truth, children have no self-control—they have parental control. Self-control—or discipline— is a trait that is learned in life. It is the governing of our passions; bringing them into subjection to our will and ultimate good. Unfortunately, self-control can also be forgotten or at least momentarily cast aside.
Proverbs 25:28 states, "A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls." It is a strikingly visual image given by the Proverb writer, that of a city unprotected and vulnerable to every ravage. Self-control acts as a defense against our weaknesses and desires that Satan longs to turn against us and use to our undoing. When there is no self-control, we are soon destroyed.
The Proverbs writer in these few chapters gives several areas where control over our carnal appetites must be exercised if our "city" is to stand. We will consider two…
"Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags" (23:20-21). Drunkenness is a sin because alcohol profoundly inhibits on our self-control. People who are drunk often say things and act in ways that are unbecoming. Surprisingly, the sin of gluttony—the uncontrolled eating of food (or, "pigging out") is placed alongside drunkenness. While we may think overeating is not the most comfortable of destination to arrive at (though it is enjoyable get there), it is clearly the result of a lack of control over our physical desires.
"My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways. For a prostitute is a deep pit; an adulteress is a narrow well. She lies in wait like a robber and increases the traitors among mankind" (23:26-28). The reigning in of sexual desires can be a difficult task, but it is crucial for a godly life. Many—including King Solomon, the writer of this proverb, who learned from experience—have given into this temptation and cast caution and control to the wind—only to suffer as their city is attacked through the breaches they have created in their own defenses. Chapter 7 told the story of a young man who gave into the seductions of an immoral woman. Although on the surface he is the victim, in truth they both are. And while the outcome of his failure is implied in verses 21-23, her eventual outcome is no less certain or promising.
There is certainly a place for carnal appetites—God gave them to us to enjoy our time on a carnal world. But, many a good man and woman have fallen over the centuries because they failed to exercise self-control over earthly passions—food and sex—and their city was vulnerable to the attacks of Satan. The wise person will consider these warnings and recognize Satan has no hold over us unless we release control of ourselves and allow him in for his nefarious purposes.