Proverbs 25:28, “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”

We often cite the above verse when talking about anger. And rightfully so – more often than not, that is exactly what comes to mind when we think of ruling our spirit. But the verse, and the principle it expresses, cover a much wider range of topics than simply our temper. In the broader context of this passage, I see that the whole of our lives can be affected by our failure to maintain control of the one thing wherein God has made us ruler – ourselves. Indeed, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit and by obedience to his Word, the Lord expects us to rule ourselves as a king or queen rules a kingdom. Under the umbrella of his guidance, God wants us to have a monarchy, not anarchy.

Notice that within the verse, there is the strong indication that it is we who are responsible to keep things out, it is we who have the burden of maintaining the boundaries. And there is a not-so-subtle understanding of what will happen if we do not do so – things that are contrary to us will overrun us and take what belongs to us.

So often we complain that we do not have enough time to get things done, that others infringe upon us, that our lives press upon us with items that simply consume us and prevent us from accomplishing our goals. And we say these things as if we have little or no say in the matter. Our language implies that we are somehow obligated by forces outside ourselves and have become victims of circumstance.

But the reality is that we have the final say in most areas of our lives. Certainly there are exceptions, but they should remain nothing more. Instead, we have allowed people and circumstance unfettered access to our time, our spending, our activities, our diets, even our spiritual direction. And the cost of surrendering control is that we find ourselves looking around at the ruins of our days, our budgets, our health, and we wonder how the invasion took place.

With diligence and forethought, however, we can reclaim our lives. We can repair the breaches, rebuild the gates, and prevent future invasions by being selective in who and what passes through the gate. When we define the lines, defend those boundaries, and seek to be useful rather than used, we will find that many of those who previously disrespected our kingdom no longer penetrate the defenses, and they may even develop into friendly neighbors who make cordial requests rather than stomping down our doors and trampling our lives.