“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25
Throughout Scripture, we see the beauty of what life looks like when we are filled with the Spirit. No one would disagree that Christians should be living by the Spirit. That’s not the hard part, is it? It’s walking by the Spirit that gets us tripped up. Galatians 5:25 follows the well-known “fruits of the spirit” (verse 22), all of the ways in which we are to live by the spirit, self-control being one of them, are listed. Paul ends with a weighty charge…don’t just live it…walk it!
How do we walk in the Spirit when it comes to self-control? In Proverbs 25:28, God gives a great picture of what the absence of self-control looks like: Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.
A wall surrounding a city serves as a preventive measure to ensure protection for those within the walls. It’s to keep something unwanted…out, right? So, how does the purpose (keeping something out) relate to the construction? Well, a lot of thought needs to go into the plan (the how) and the materials (the what). Strength and durability is important for not only initial protection but for the long-term. It’s pretty hard to protect yourself or others if you have to rebuild and defend at the same time.
A city whose walls are broken have little to no defense against its enemies. Likewise a person who lacks self-control has little to no defense against the spiritual enemies of this world.
CALL TO ACTION
Self-control (doing the things you’re supposed to do even if you don’t want to) is a key component in the Christian walk regardless of how old you are. However, it is far easier to learn this as a child than it is when an adult! Frederick Douglass once said “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” As parents, this should be our mantra! We should actively be pursing building strong children!
So how do we build strong children when it comes to self-control?
HAVE A PLAN – Building a wall without a plan would be chaotic. So too is child training. Consistency is vital when it comes to child rearing and can only be pulled off successfully if you have a plan for how to handle (respond/react) situations. For example, if you are at the store with your toddler and they want a piece of candy in the check-out line but you don’t want them to have a piece of candy…what’s the plan? How should you respond? These are their very first lessons in self-control! If you say no, they scream, and you give in – you’ve allowed a weak spot in the parenting wall.
CHOOSE MATERIALS WISELY – Constructing a wall requires attention to details when it comes to building materials. What are your go-to resources for parenting advice? The Bible should be one of the top ones! If you teach yourself and your children to hide God’s Word in your/their heart, you are building a wall that will be more difficult for spiritual enemies to tear down. If you don’t want a temporary protection, then invest wisely in time and resources to ensure a wall that stands.
THINK LONG TERM – Possessing self-control as a child is very likely to lead to self-control as an adult. Scripture encourages us “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Parents are to serve as “the wall” for their children while within their care, to protect them from harm (sometimes that means from themselves!). While the temptation may be to place low priority over self-control training in our adorable children, keep in mind that adults that lack self-control can cause significant hurt to others (adultery, theft, murder, abuse etc) and as Frederick Douglass reminds us, it’s much harder to fix those problems later on (in adulthood) than to deal with it at the very beginning (child training).
“In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves.”
Harry S. Truman