Have you noticed that some of the most high profile and gifted public figures of our day are “self-destructing?” It is not their outside adversaries or environments that are their ruin; they are sabotaged by their own lack of moral fortitude. Without the grace and discernment of God, we are prone to follow in their exposed footsteps. We can learn much not just from these poor examples but also the wisdom of Proverbs.
Proverbs 25:28 declares,“He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls.”
This statement is one of the most stirring assessments of the undisciplined person. The uncontrolled spirit exposes a person to the imminent dangers of vulnerability.
In ancient times, cities defended themselves with impregnable and imposing walls. Unless the enemies could mount a siege of long duration, often difficult because of the need for fresh supplies to the troops, a walled city was typically safe from defeat. But if the wall were compromised, or if the city neglected to erect a wall for defense, the enemy could come in at will. Without walls any city was vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy.
In like fashion, any undisciplined person is vulnerable to trouble. One who has not committed to controlling himself can be easily defeated by a skilled opponent. His lack of self-control leads to irrational thoughts and actions. When an undisciplined person’s defenses are down the enemy can control and manipulate him. Proverbs 16:32 adds, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”
This erratic person will ruin his opportunities at work, home, and ministry. No matter what other skills, opportunities, and training, all of these will be undermined and diminished by failure to control personal temperament, appetites, habits, and schedule. Please notice that a lack of self-rule does not lead to greater liberty; it clearly digresses to greater bondage. The walls of wisdom are not the walls of a “prison.” They are the walls of a “garden.”
A great example of this principle is found in the rich history of the Great Wall of China. Although the Ming Dynasty’s Great Wall of China, built solidly of stone and brick, looks formidable and impossible to penetrate, in fact, people passed through the wall regularly throughout its history. When hostile armies wanted to make their way through the gates, they most often simply bribed or cajoled some of the guards to let them in. This was simpler and far less dangerous than actually launching an assault against the Great Wall.
Your self-indulgence leads to a porous, paper thin wall that only serves as a tangible prop to artificially soothe your fears. Don’t be lazy. Don’t settle for second-best. Don’t cut corners. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t tolerate the gray. Don’t yield in the insignificant. Don’t…I think you get the point. Remember “the city” of your heart, home, and ministry is only as secure as the vigilant, biblical structure of your self-rule through the enabling of the Spirit of God.