“He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city” (Proverbs 16:32).
The fruit of the Spirit is self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Others may vent their feelings, but God wants us to be people who rule our own spirit, who exercise self-control.
In this verse, we’re told that the toughest enemy to defeat is inside us. You may be strong to refute error, maybe even a good preacher, a faithful witness to the lost. You may sing, “Onward, Christian soldiers!” and spiritually be able to “take a city”. If so, praise the Lord! Yes, praise the Lord, and then go on to the really difficult task of defeating yourself. If, by God’s grace and the work of His Spirit in your life, you learn to practice self-control and rule your spirit, you have become mightier than the mighty.
Christians tend to talk about the devil as our spiritual enemy. This verse provides the uncomfortable message that the hardest enemy to defeat is a little closer to home.
The hymn writer said:
My foes are ever near me, around me and within; But Jesus, draw Thou nearer, and shield my soul from sin.
I’m thankful that the Lord does shield us, and that this work of self-control is a work of the Spirit. I could never do it myself. We’ll trust our God to complete His work in us (Philippians 1:6).