Biblical Masculinity #5: Self-Control

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The next stop on our tour through proverbial masculinity is self-control.  Proverbs 16:32 tells us, "Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city."

Self-control is especially important in relationships, such as in marriage.  The reality is that our relationships will always involve at least some friction and even conflict.  (That's right, your marriage is not the only one with conflict...).  The tendency is to focus on the offenses of the other person, but the more godly a man is the more he will direct his attention towards himself.  A lot of men struggle with anger; this problem signals a need for serious heart-work.  Why do I get angry? a man should ask of himself.  Why am I quick to yell, belittle, or strike out?  Notice the contrast between being slow to anger and being mighty; anger often flows from a reliance on strength, which God has given men to use for good and not for evil. 

If a man lacks self-control, especially in terms of anger, this matter should be a serious focus in prayer.  Such a man -- and there are lots of them -- should spend time on his knees honestly talking with God about what it is that provokes him and asking the Lord to help him see what is behind this raw nerve.  Is it a defensiveness that masks an unwillingness to repent?  Is it pride, so that any challenge to authority leads to rage?  Every man should give serious attention to this matter of self-control, lest the strength that God has given him should be misused and exercised in an abusive manner.  Jesus promises the help of the Holy Spirit to those who ask, so ask the Holy Spirit's help in plowing your own heart and gaining the vital virtue of self-control.

James writes that "no one can tame the tongue" (Ja. 3:8).  This reminds us not even to bother trying to gain self-control in our own strength.  An issue like this depends on the Lord's work deep beneath the surface.  Only when the grace of God has mastered our hearts will our tongue come under his control.  But men should target their prayers to such an area, zealously seeking from God the grace of self-control as our hearts are increasingly under his control.
Posted February 5, 2007 @ 10:46 AM by Rick Phillips
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