Proverbs 25:28 (NLT)
A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.
If you think back to your days in high school English, you may have noticed something about this chapter in Proverbs – it makes extensive use of the “like/as” mechanism called a simile. In this particular case, and in the original Hebrew, the proverb literally says, “A man is a city.” This understanding brings today’s proverbs to a much deeper level.
Cities play a prominent role throughout scripture, but none more prominent than Jerusalem itself. God dwelt there personally in the temple, but He also built it and protected it. His protection could be counted on when Israel was living in obedience…but when they disobeyed, the city was destroyed, and God’s people were taken into exile (2 Kings 25). The early readers of Solomon’s proverbs would have linked this passage directly to Jerusalem, given the reference to “broken-down walls,” but for us modern readers…the city is us, personally…the temple in which God dwells.
What is it that protected the ancient city of Jerusalem from its enemies? It’s walls! What is it that protects your life from most of your enemies? The self-control that is part of the Fruit of the Spirit. Self-control will protect you from the enemy of your own sin nature. It will: enable you to keep your mouth shut, control your anger, make your eyes look in another direction, keep you from returning for another plate, close the computer or smartphone down and go to bed. Without self-control, YOU are the enemy and your city isn’t safe.
If your city is in danger – and it is – then like Nehemiah, you need to take a close look at your walls and assess where you need to get to work. Does your speech need self-control? Perhaps you are quick to lash out and quick to gossip. Does your appetite for food, entertainment, distraction, or attention need self-control? Perhaps you waste a lot of time and run from a challenge. How about your spending habits? You might be an impulse buyer or rarely make or stick to a budget. Do your emotions need more self-control? Perhaps your anger rules over you or your fright paralyzes you.
The city indeed is YOU…so keep your city safe and exercise your self-control!