A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. Proverbs 25:28
Whenever I have experienced success in self-control, whether it has been in my drug addiction, thought life or overeating, I have almost immediately succumbed to pride, condescending to those who are still struggling. Look at me. I’ve got self-control. Why are you still struggling?
Most of us have done this. We either wrestle with self-control with eating, or we master food, and in our success, we lose control of our pride. Almost everyone struggles with self-control of something. Those who would appear to be in control the most – those who don’t drink, smoke or overeat – usually struggle with pride in the fact that they don’t drink, smoke or overeat.
The arrogance that often comes with our success reveals that we may not be seeking self-control for the right reasons. Self-control is not about self-improvement, simply so that we may be skinny or sober. Self-control is about choosing what we allow into our lives so that we may grow continually closer to knowing, loving and obeying God. Sobriety is fantastic, but it is not God.
Self-control simply for the sake of self-control is following a list of rules, only for the sake of rules. We call this legalism and it leads straight back to deadly pride, which separates us from God as surely as pornography, food, or drug addiction.
We must be the gatekeepers of what we allow into and out of us. Today’s passage describes the one without self-control as a city without walls, where anything comes and goes. In such a state, we cannot follow God as we are distracted by our toxic appetites and behavior. We are what we eat. Consuming garbage leads to predictable results.
If we want to know God and if we want the life, joy and peace that he intends, then we must continually control what we put in us. We must guard the thoughts in our minds and the behavior/speech that flows out of us. We must daily eliminate everything – even the pride of success – that distracts us from knowing the Father.