Discipline. A word most Christians cringe at when they hear it. We don’t like the idea of pursuing discipline in any area of our lives. Why? Because no discipline is easy. In fact Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
Many believers even use God’s example of rest as a reason to downplay the importance of productivity and discipline. But here’s the important thing to remember: rest is not the opposite of discipline. In fact, rest is a spiritual discipline that is essential to the life of a believer. If rest was good enough for God (on the 7th day- GOD RESTED), then rest is good enough for me as a limited human.
When I started embracing rest and implementing true, fulfilling rest into my life and days I started looking at discipline a lot differently. What I realized is that discipline allows me to live a more at rest life. One that is reliant and at peace with God and focused on glorifying Him through the work that I do and how I show up.
We live in a culture that is obsessed with busyness, but most are not doing things that move their lives forward towards growth. We struggle with saying yes to a lot of things, but don’t know how to productively fill our days.
The life of a believer is holistic- meaning that our walk with the Lord affects every part of our lives. Spiritual disciplines should result in physical, mental, and emotional disciplines as well. If we are filling our days with spiritual disciplines like: time in God’s word and prayer it will flow into every other area of our life.
In his book Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster captures the necessity of discipline for an effective Christian life:
“If all human strivings end in moral bankruptcy (and having tried it, we know it is so), and if righteousness is a gracious gift from God (we the Bible clearly states), then is it not logical to conclude that we must wait for God to come and transform us? Strangely enough, the answer is no… God has given us the Disciplines of the spiritual life as a means of receiving His grace. The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that He can transform us.”
It’s important to remember that while discipline is good and having spiritual disciplines in place is important, it is only by grace that we are saved. No matter how many disciplines we create or how much we accomplish, our standing with God remains the same. However, we may miss out on the blessing of experiencing growth, intimacy with God and freedom that comes from being spiritually disciplined.
Oswald Chambers talks about this in his devotional, My Utmost for His Highest. “We are in danger of forgetting that we cannot do what God does, and that God will not do what we can do. We cannot save nor sanctify ourselves— God does that. But God will not give us good habits or character, and He will not force us to walk correctly before Him. We have to do all that ourselves.”
If we let our desires lead our decisions, our lives can quickly spin out of control. Self-control is a discipline that God grows in us when we continually choose to die to our flesh and live in Him. If you will commit to showing up consistently, every day, no matter what, then you have already won well more than half the battle.
Jeff Olson says in his book The Slight Edge, “The truth is, what you do matters. What you do today matters. What you do every day matters. Successful people just do the things that seem to make no difference in the act of doing them and they do them over and over and over until the compound effect kicks in.”
Simple daily spiritual disciplines matter. Your walk with God and how you show up and fill up on His love must be the catalyst that takes you into the rest of your day. Then and only then can you show up in other areas of your life as an overflow.
Be in the Word, spend time in prayer (start with just 10 minutes a day), make time for gratitude/reflecting and practice a weekly Sabbath.
The Christian life is not a life of comfort but a life of surrender. Surrendering our fleshly desires for Jesus, every moment of every day. But here’s the good news: God is with you every moment of every single day.
You are not in this alone friend. Lean on Him and watch Him transform your life and desires as an overflow.
January 5, 2022