As you may already know, I have the privilege of being a motivational speaker in public schools through Hello Mr. Brown and the Choose Well program. I get to do assemblies and classroom visits and sometimes some one-on-one mentoring, but my favorite is small group talks. I often end up talking with a group of boys about how to make good choices and have self-control. I often tell them this: if you don’t control yourself, someone will have to control you for you.
This relates to our verse today. Proverbs 25:28 – “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” We often tend to be very impulsive. We think something and we do it; we think it, and we do it. We don’t think about the consequences until later. So when I speak to kids, I try to encourage them to think about the consequences before hand. It’s kind of like playing chess: you need to strategize, understand what your opponent’s future moves might be, and most importantly, plan your own next moves carefully.
Let’s go back to the idea that if you don’t control yourself, someone else will have to control you for you. When I’m talking to kids, I often use the example of people in prison. For those who are in prison justly, who did something wrong and earned the consequence, it’s likely that they are there because they suffered from a lack of self-control and did something they shouldn’t have done. Therefore, someone else now controls them; someone tells them what they can and cannot do. But we should be people of self-control.
I also use this illustration with students: pretend when you get home one day that the walls of your home are gone. Everything else is still there and in place, but the walls are gone. What would happen to your stuff? It would get wet, it might get stolen, and you might not be able to sleep well at night for fear.
In the Bible, we read about cities with walls around them; they were there for protection. Like Jericho. God instructed Joshua to march around the wall and then it crumbled so they could go in and attack. So what I’m getting from this verse is that, like city walls protect cities, self-control protects us. Being able to control your impulses keeps you from giving your strength away to others when you give in to a lack of self-control.
I think of the issue of gun-control. I know this is a difficult and controversial topic, and there are a lot of grieving people as a result of school shootings and whatnot. But if we look only at the guns themselves, we won’t get anywhere, because deeper down, this is an issue of the heart, and of self-control. We should have self-control in the kinds of media we consume related to this; it affects how we think whether we like it or not.
The point is this: what we consume will one day consume us. What we allow into our minds through our eyes and our ears impacts the way we live our lives. We have to have self-control not only in what we do outwardly, but also in what we do inwardly, or privately.
The bottom line is that we learn to have some self-control. We also need to learn a little about delayed gratification. We can’t always have what we want immediately. This is especially important for children. They need to learn how to accept no as an answer so that when they get yes as an answer, they have the capacity to accept it. Teaching our kids to handle “no” well is a great way to teach them self-control. It’s okay to be sad or disappointed, but not to blow up in anger.
Here’s our verse of the day one more time: “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls,” (Prov 25:28). Make sure you have the wall of protection in your life that is self-control.
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