The following is an excerpt taken from my upcoming book, “The Mighty Man of Valor: God’s Definition of Masculinity”
Proverbs 16:32 – “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”
Proverbs 25:28 – “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.”
“Self-control is the true indicator of strength. The man who is gentlest under provocation is the one who proves himself strongest. Self-control is itself a fight—a fight to resist the temptation to submit to your emotions. Self-control is the fight of a soldier in the Lord’s army, and it’s the only fight that will truly forge you into a man. Real men aren’t ruled by their flesh…they rule over their flesh. Weak men are slaves of their impulses; strong men are masters over themselves.
That being said, let me explain the connection between the two proverbs that I quoted at the top of this section. First off, according to Proverbs 16:32, a man who is slow to anger—or one who rules over his emotions—is actually stronger than a man who has the military strength and cunning to overtake an entire city! Let’s think about the historical context here. In the days of King Solomon, the man who wrote these proverbs, besieging and overtaking a city was no small task. It required tremendous endurance, strategic planning, execution, and courage. It often took months and even years, in certain cases, to finally get through the wall of a city and overtake it. Only the best warriors could accomplish such a feat. Yet Solomon says that if you have self-control, you’re greater than the mightiest of warriors. How can this be? Yes, it’s no easy task to take a city with military force. However, even more difficult than taking a city, is becoming a master over yourself.
You are your worst enemy. Your flesh—a carnal mind—is the most formidable enemy you will ever face…even more so than the devil himself. Without your consent and cooperation, the devil can do nothing in your life (1 Peter 5:8, Ephesians 4:26-27). The devil uses your own emotions, feelings, words, and actions to defeat you. If you can rule over yourself, the devil has nothing in your life to work with. He can only capitalize on the ungodly choices you make, things you say, and thoughts you choose to dwell on. If you don’t submit to any ungodly impulse or any doubt, the will of the enemy cannot come to pass. If you master yourself, you have succeeded in accomplishing a feat that only the strongest men can accomplish. Many men over the course of history have defeated opposing armies, but very few have been able to defeat themselves. Most men are totally ruled by their flesh—their impulses, lusts, feelings, etc. Therefore, it is the calling of a soldier in the Lord’s army to first be a ruler over his own spirit. Training in self-discipline is the bootcamp of the army you’ve been drafted in to. Why is self-discipline so important? This is where the next proverbs comes in.
“He who has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down without walls” (Proverbs 25:28). If you have no self-control, you have no way of defending yourself against the advances of the enemy. If you can’t control your own emotions, resist temptation, master your thoughts, or deny the flesh, you are completely vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy. If you can’t control yourself the devil can use you to do whatever he wants. We’re constantly being bombarded with temptations that tell us to do the opposite of what we know is right. And if we don’t make a vigilant effort to resist these temptations, we’ll sabotage our ourselves—we’ll grow weak and passive in our character and convictions.
Truly, to be a mighty man of valor is to be a master over yourself. Weak men of measly character are slaves to the impulses of their flesh. Warriors are those who have disciplined their minds and bodies to function in submission to the will of God.”
Remember men, you all have a daily choice to make: to be a master over your flesh, or a slave to it. In the sight of God, your disciplined effort to resist the impulses of the flesh is the greatest demonstration of strength. When you are angered by someone, choose to walk in love…only the strongest men can do that. When someone takes advantage of you, choose to pray for them and bless them…only the strongest men can do that. When you feel disrespected and unappreciated, continue to serve with humility…only the strongest men can do that. Prove yourself a man by proving to the devil that you are no longer a slave, but a master. Say no to anger, and choose to walk in love.