The book of Proverbs is replete with instructions and exhortations, many specifically to young men, so it is unsurprising that the book includes many a pointed word addressing a virtue so needed in men today––self-control. This fruit of the spirit is lifted high above success, reputation, physical strength, wealth, expertise etc. and gilded with the golden stamp of approval by the only standard that counts for anything––the standard set by the eternal, living God in scripture.
Solomon, in his great, God-given wisdom writes, “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty and he who rules his own spirit than he who captures a city” and, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Proverbs 16:32, 25:28).
It’s Elizabeth Elliot who is quoted in saying, “Self-control is the greatest virility” and it, as one can plainly see, is a thoroughly biblical summary. The greatest of the quintessential positive masculine characteristics such as strength, bravery, chivalry, self-control, etc. is self-control.
Solomon under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, puts a rather staggering statement down in clear black and white for us to easily understand––it is better, more desired, more valuable, more godly, to rule yourself than it is to conquer and vanquish an enemy.
To rule oneself, to be truly disciplined, to master your own constitution, to be self-controlled is the center jewel on the crown of biblical masculinity.
The Lord Jesus Christ was perfectly self-controlled at all times––for he was pure, without sin and kept the law in its entirety. In the garden before his crucifixion, Christ was at the cusp of suffering greater agony than anyone can fathom for he was to suffer both profound physical and spiritual torment and anguish––He was to be the propitiation for our sin, to bear God’s wrath and holy hatred against sin.
On the verge of descending into this valley of suffering Christ prays to the Father and asks for the Father’s, not his, will to be done. Christ ruled himself. He knew the agonies awaiting him, he was to become a sin-offering consumed by God’s wrath, he was to suffer and die. Yet, he was obedient to death, even death on a cross. This is the perfect pinnacle of self-control and it is worthy to be meditated on.
Marveling at and meditating on the absolute perfections of Christ as he bore unblemished fruit of the Spirit is a worthy and rewarding exercise. Truly, how many times have we been blessed by considering and thinking upon Christ’s love and joy and peace and patience and kindness, etc.? Yet, we would do well to likewise consider his impeccable self-control.
Young men have their marching orders––rule yourself, be a picture of discipline and diligence, be self-controlled.
This is better than conquering a city, possessing great wealth, gaining unrivaled respect, winning a competition, running a successful business, embodying terrible strength, or anything else you can imagine.
A perfect picture, Christ Jesus, is there for you to follow as are flawed but worthy saints who have ‘feared the Lord and turned away from evil’ such as Job, Moses, the Apostle Paul, and many, many more.
Self-control is the greatest virility.