Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is eating up news headlines these days, from admitting “to smoking crack cocaine, buying illegal drugs, and driving after consuming alcohol” (Allison Martell, Reuters, 11/18/13). His profanity-laced tirades, graphic sexual remarks, domestic incidents, and general godless behavior are all marquee letters on a sign that reads, “No self control here!” His appearance, speech, and videotaped conduct are all primary witnesses to that end. He appears to be one gigantic-sized scandal. Though Toronto’s City Council has voted to transfer his power to the deputy mayor and otherwise curtail his ability to serve, Ford has utterly refused to resign. Mr. Ford seems like more of a symptom than a cause of debauchery and indulgence in western society however larger than life he demonstrates it.
Self-control is an oft-touted virtue set forth by God in His Word. It was important enough to be a part of Paul’s three point outline to Felix (Acts 24:25), to be an important point in Paul’s counsel to Corinthians about godly marriage (1 Cor. 7:5,9), to be a “slice” of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23) and to be one of the Christian virtues (2 Pet. 1:6). Paul paints a grim picture to Timothy about spiritually-difficult times to come, talking about men who are “without self-control” (2 Tim. 3:3). He says to avoid such men as these (2 Tim. 3:5).
What is so important about self-control? It is impossible for one to submit to the Lord whose passions and desires are not under control. Paul says, “Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:24). An out-of-control person is out of harmony with His will.
One without self-control is prone to have a negative influence upon others, too. For a Christian lacking self-control, there is the crisis of turning others off from Christianity. There is the equally damaging effect of swaying impressionable people to follow out-of-control, sinful behavior. Either way, a lack of self-control pushes other people further away from Christ.
Ford’s behavior has been described as repulsive, offensive, and flabbergasting. Perhaps he is an uncomfortable, if exaggerated, picture of tendencies we all have in our own lives. Hopefully, seeing how negative a picture a lack of self-control paints will motivate us to take care in this regard.