Discipline: A Call From God
Our culture today celebrates laziness, sinful feelings, emotionalism, and a lack of overall discipline as being that which is good. Many parents raising their kids apart from the biblical worldview often do not instill a work ethic into them. Countless are relying more and more on the welfare state to care for their daily needs. Those who “feel like a man trapped in a woman’s body” are encouraged to mutilate their physical appearance to match their faulty emotions. Concepts such as denying yourself, disciplining your body, and working hard for the glory of God are eroding from our society as the influence of biblical Christianity has waned.
With all that being said, there are still many today who are faithful believers seeking to live with full effort for the glory of God. The Apostle Paul laid down the importance of discipline in the Christian’s life when he said:
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” -1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Clearly, Paul was focused in life. He was driven to live in submission to Christ. The man was passionate about pursuing the Lord and the calling he had been given. None of this was being done in order to gain the approval of God for he had already been made righteous by the power of the Gospel! However, the Lord had called him to serve in all of his life to the praise of his Master. Therefore, he was going to run full sprint disciplining himself after what God has called him to do. The call to exercise self-control in all things governing our hearts, minds, and souls after the Word of God is the call of every single Christian!
Discipline and Joy
If we are to be faithful in Christ we must see this call to pursue discipline in the Lord as a joy. The reality that the concepts of “discipline” and “joy” do not go together shows just how far off base our culture is today. We are born undisciplined simply pursuing the whims of the flesh according to our craving in the moment. It is joyful, it is good to strive after the discipline of living by the standard of Scripture, this is the path of the fullness of delight. Psalm 94:12-13 says:
“Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord, and whom you teach out of your law, to give him rest from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked.” -Psalm 94:12-13
The Lord disciplines His children according to the standard of Scripture. According to His Word, this is a blessing. Understanding that fact, reframes how we think about discipline. Instead of indulging the sin of gluttony, it is freeing to walk in self-control. Where the world says that we should run in our sexual depravity to the fullest, biblical Christianity says that freedom is to be found in being transformed by the Gospel and submitting to God’s design. Laziness leads to devastation, relying on the welfare state shackles us to slavery, but working hard to provide is the fulfillment of Christ’s divine mandate. This, friends, is the path of joy and we need to see it as such.
Reorienting Our Perspective on Discipline
We are not born disciplined or wise, in fact, we are born in folly and discipline drives it from us (Proverbs 22:15). Once we are saved, God progressively works in us to bring us into conformity to Christ. Whenever we begin to understand that this is a joyful reality, it is a life-changing experience in every realm. Now, I begin to see that disciplining myself to study the Word of God each day, even if I am tired early in the morning, is cultivating in me godly desires. I long for the Word and realize my need to know more of God every single day. Disciplining myself to prayer over time begins to be viewed as the vital connection with the living God I need without ceasing throughout the day. Instead of wasting time endlessly scrolling on social media, I discipline my habits to cultivate intentional investment of each hour. Seeing all of this as a joy before the Lord and the path He has called me to live will give me endurance as I seek to run this race well.
Let us be those who discipline ourselves according to the standard of God’s Word! May we pursue Christ and desire what He desires as we live on the basis of the freedom He has given to us. We have been approved of in the Lord by our God and Father, that reality should cause us to seek His pleasure every moment of our lives. May we intentionally pursue this end because of the grace and mercy He has shown to us! I pray that God works through us to be an influence on others to show them the joy of discipline, including those of the next generation!