L/Text: 2Tim. 1:7, Gal 5:22-23
Discipline is described as a training to improve strength or self-control. It could also be described as the trait of being well behaved. It is a system of rules of conduct or method of practice.
Discipline is what modern believers need the most but want the least.
Much of the restlessness and the instability in the lives of many Christians can be traced to the basic fault of an undisciplined way of life. There may be other secondary causes, but somewhere behind all of them is a fundamental need for discipline.
Many emotional disorders among believers are the accumulated results of years of self-indulgent living. I am not thinking of backsliders who drink and commit adultery, but of respectable Christians who never do such things, but who are nevertheless undisciplined.
A lifelong pattern of running away from trials, of avoiding difficult people, of seeking the easy way, of giving up when the going gets rough, finally produces sick believers, who are incapable either of fulfilling God’s perfect will for their lives, or of functioning as useful members of the body of Christ.
The Bible says, “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small” (Prov.24:10).
Days of adversity will come to all of us. And, it is only by consistent, disciplined living that strength of character can be developed in us. It is discipline that enables us face those days of adversity without fainting.
DISCIPLINE – THE KEY TO POWER
Many Christians go through an emotional experience of “the baptism in the Spirit”, that seems to be totally unrelated in their thinking to any form of rugged self-denial.
No-one can become genuinely holy, whatever experience he may have had, unless he is disciplined in all areas of daily living. The advantage that a man with a disciplined life will be seen not only in greater holiness and spirituality, but also in greater efficiency and effectiveness in everything that he does for the Lord.
DISCIPLINE – THE MARK OF MATURITY
No-one can reach full maturity unless he is disciplined in daily life.
Our Physical Appetites
Discipline includes the subordination of the body’s physical appetites to the Lordship of Christ.
Paul said, “Like an athlete, I punish my body, treating it roughly, training it to do what it should, and not what it wants to. Otherwise I fear that after enlisting others for the race, I myself might be declared unfit and ordered to stand aside” (1 Cor.9:27 – Living).
Our emotions too must be brought under control. God certainly wants us to be warm hearted. But the warm-hearted must be wise. Otherwise he can end up doing and saying many foolish things which can be regretted later on. We must always distrust our sudden impulses to say or to do something.
“A good man thinks before he speaks; the evil man pours out his evil words without a thought…..There is more hope for a fool than for one who is hasty in his words or his matters” (Prov.15:28; 29:20 – Living Bible, and KJV margin).
Disciplined character also means the mastery of our moods. A certain amount of the swing of the pendulum is unavoidable here, as long as we are in the flesh – for sometimes, a failure in our work or study, or physical weariness can bring a temporary cloud of discouragement quite easily. But we can by discipline, ensure that our moods don’t hinder our work, our behaviour, or our relationships with others.
No-one can qualify for the high rating of a truly disciplined man unless his tongue is restrained by wisdom and directed by love (James 1:26).
A man may have a disciplined body, mind, and will, and even disciplined emotions, appetites and habits, but a loose tongue betrays a fatal fault in his armour.
A truly disciplined person is wise enough to subordinate less important things to the more important ones. Herein lies the most crucial problem that we face in our day and age.
We must learn to give first priority to the kingdom of God and His righteousness in practical daily living.
Submission to Legitimate Authority
Another mark of the disciplined person is the ability to submit to legitimate authority gracefully. In most of life’s normal relationships, rebellion is both stupid and destructive. Habitual rebellion is the mark of carnal Christians, not of spiritual ones.
THE DANGERS OF DISCIPLINE
Among the dangers there are in the pursuit of a disciplined life, the greatest one is imagining that discipline is the supreme value of life. It is not. A right relationship with God is the greatest of all treasures, and discipline must be seen as a servant, not a saviour!
A second danger is that of pride.
A third danger in the pursuit of discipline is that of going to the extreme of un-Christian asceticism.
A fourth danger is that of undisciplined discipline! We must not allow discipline to become our god.
DISCIPLINE AND HOLINESS
We must not confuse disciplined living with holy living. The two are not the same.
True holiness begins and ends with living for the glory of God, whereas discipline can, if we are not careful, might begin and end with living for the glory of self.
HOW TO BECOME A DISCIPLINED PERSON
1. Reinforce your motivation for a disciplined life.
2. Begin with the simple things.
3. Show respect to all men
4. Tackle the difficult tasks promptly.
5. Be punctual for the meetings of the church and for your appointments.
6. Don’t waste your time in idle daydreaming.
7. Don’t be agitated when unexpected events throw your well-laid plans into confusion
8. Love your critics.
9. Be restrained in the areas of curiosity, prejudice and dogmatism.
10. Conquer gluttony.
11. Learn to wait.
12. Welcome the difficult tasks in life.
13. Be systematic in prayer and Bible-reading.
14. Avoid unnecessary luxuries and don’t be wasteful in spending money.
The Christian life is serious, challenging and demanding. Following Jesus will lead us, not to a picnic, but to a battle. And let us remember that our Captain “never pleased Himself” (Rom.15:3).
As His disciples, let us then:
– have a passion for improving the quality of our Christian life;
– have a sense of stewardship towards life, to fulfil God’s will;
– be ready at all times for sacrifice or for service;
– apply ourselves faithfully at all times to the task at hand;
– ALL FOR JESUS’ SAKE!
PASTOR OLUWAYIMIKA ANIBABA
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