Proverbs 13:3

Who’s in Control?

Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.  Proverbs 13:3

Often we feel there’s little in life we can control, but that’s not true. We make decisions daily in what we say, what we do, where we’ll go, what we’ll listen to, who we’ll befriend, what we’ll trust, and what we’ll leave as our legacy. We’re aided in our choices by the indwelling Holy Spirit, who helps us produce the fruit of self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Proverbs 13 says much about self-control. For instance, the writer encourages us to guard our lips—to be careful about what we say or fail to say. Our words can lead to violence or ruin (vv. 2-3), or they can be a fountain of life “turning a [person] from the snares of death” (v. 14).

Although we may not be able to control much of what we have to do in our workday, we can control our attitude and responses. During our spare time, our choices can be based on good common sense so as to avoid folly and destruction rather than on culturally popular activities (vv. 15-16). We can deny our cravings. We also can control what we love and hate (vv. 4, 5, 12, 19, 25).

Who will we listen to? What if someone says we’re wrong? We can control our response to instruction, rebukes, or demands. Will we receive correction? Will we scoff or strive against and despise these things (vv. 1, 10, 13, 18)?

What about our friends? Who do we hang around with (v. 20)? Are we real and honest or do we put on a show for people, trying to impress them rather than just being ourselves?

Proverbs 13 also encourages parents to discipline their children (v. 24). It’s easier to give in and let them do whatever they want—or so it seems—but ultimately, discipline expresses a parent’s love.

Will we trust our bank account or the Word of God (vv. 7, 8, 11, 13)? We can control our legacy: not just the money we’ll leave others, but the example of a full life lived in the Spirit, bearing the fruit of the Spirit (v. 22).

Will your self-control glorify God today?


Contrast a life of walking in the spirit with self-control and one walking in fleshly desires as described in Galatians 5:16-21. Do you have problems controlling any of these desires?

Compare Proverbs 13:9 and Matthew 6:19-24. Jesus wasn’t talking about 20/20 vision. Why do you think He spoke of the eye while speaking about what we treasure in our hearts? What’s the connection?

Peter said that believers have been given everything we need to live godly lives (2 Peter 1:2-11). What does he list besides self-control? How will these things influence our lives?

Nancy J. Baker

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