Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls. Proverbs 25:28
Many times when we near a large city we will see neighborhoods surrounded by brick walls or tall wooden fences which remind me of the walled cities of the ancient world. Why do the walls exist? They are used for protection-to keep the enemy outside the wall. Usually there would be a very few gates which would be heavily guarded and no one could enter without going through these gates. If the walls were broken down then the city became defenseless. It is the same for each of us. We must have walls to defend our own souls. We must develop habits that will build up walls of protection for our bodies, our thoughts and our emotions. If we do not have self-control we will be of no use to God. We must learn to defend the gates of our bodies by carefully guarding what we see, hear and do.
Remember the little children's song "Oh, be careful little eyes what you see? Oh, be careful little eyes what you see? For the Father up above is looking down in love, oh, be careful little eyes what you see?" Other verses: be careful little ears what you hear, be careful little feet where you go, and be careful little hands what you do. I think many of us forget this as we grow older and allow ourselves to become lax in guarding the gates to our thoughts, bodies and emotions.
God commands us to control our bodies: 1 Corinthian 9:27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. Many of us have recalled the guards and let thrown the gates wide open here. We are too lazy, too busy and make so many other excuses that we don't exercise our bodies that way that God intended. We overeat and eat foods that are not good for us. Our culture has said to us over and over that we "deserve" a break, you only live once, go for the gusto! But God calls us to have control over the desires of the flesh. My flesh is weak! I have established bad habits with overeating and lack of exercise. As I continue to study more and more about self-control with my children I hope to model better habits in these areas.
God commands us to control our thoughts: 2 Corinthians 10:5 Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. We must guard our eyes and our ears and not allow ourselves to become involved in anything that would lead us to think of things that are impure and indecent. We must also BE the guard for our children until they are old enough to have control in this area themselves. Music, literature and movies can be the impetus of impure thoughts. We need to guard these areas diligently so that our children and ourselves will not be exposed to materials that would cause any of us to have impure thoughts. I recently assigned a book to an older son to read. It was on several recommended book lists for the World War I period, but after reading a chapter or two he brought it to me saying that there was some unGodly language and that there were sexual innuendos. He has learned to guard his thoughts by not reading or watching anything that would cause him to think impure thoughts.
God also commands us to control our emotions. Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls. Proverbs 25:28 We mustn't allow our emotions to control us. Anger is a sin! Fear is a sin! Irritation is a sin! We must curb our emotions and teach our children to do the same. It is only with God's help that we can do this. Our sin nature causes us to be an emotional mess at times.
Only through God can we build up the walls to protect ourselves and our children. Learning to control our bodies, our thoughts and our emotions is necessary to live fully in Christ. I look forward to studying more about self-control in the next few months using Polished Cornerstones and Plants Grown Up with my youngest daughter and sons. These are wonderful resources from Doorposts that will help you teach and guide your children to living a more Godly life.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3: 5-6