October 23

The Power of Self-Control

Proverbs 16:32 He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

Proverbs 14:29a He who is slow to wrath has great understanding….

Proverbs 19:11 The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.

Proverbs 25:28 Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.

James 1:19-20 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Keeping our cool is not just a benefit because of what it avoids, but for what it produces. Certainly keeping our tempers prevents disagreements, even arguments and outright fights; it even prevents spiritual invasion from the enemy, which is what Proverbs 25:28 (above) refers to.

But more than that, Scripture says it makes us better than the mighty, gives us power and authority, rewards us with great understanding, protects us and helps produce the righteousness of God. How it does so isn’t made clear in every Biblical reference, except perhaps for Proverbs 19:11, where the “glory” of the self-controlled person is to overlook a transgression. It’s a blessing to us and to others when we are able to resist taking offense when something “offensive” is said. We all have our own personal ways of not picking up offense when it is there for the taking, but whatever tactics we use will keep us from anger and its attendant problems.

We can also infer from James 1 (above) that resisting offense and anger positions us to receive the grace that produces the righteousness of God. Anger is an outwardly directed negative expression that prevents us from taking in and applying the positive values of grace, which is offered by God and is received as an inwardly directed gift. It’s easy to see how anger and wrath can prevent its reception.

Gaining self-control is imperative for every believer. It may be more work for some to gain “rule over his own spirit,” but it’s clearly important to God and His purposes that we learn to be “swift to hear, slow to speak, [and] slow to wrath.” We can’t use our personality styles or our national backgrounds as excuses for not having self-control. Yes, some personalities and cultures are more expressive than others. But being expressive doesn’t mean that we have a pass on losing control.

Our tendency to express must come under the lordship of Christ, especially when emotions are high. Becoming like a city without walls is obviously dangerous for us, and the number of scriptures dealing with the subject tells us that the issue is important to His kingdom.

Prayer: Lord, help me to learn self-control, not just for my benefit, but for your glory. Teach me to overlook transgressions, and not take them personally. Help me to rule my spirit that I may take spiritual cities for You (Proverbs 16:32).

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