Discipline. It has almost become a dirty word in our society today - even among Christians. It’s a shame, really. Christians are supposed to be disciples. Disciples are supposed to be disciplined. A disciple (learner, pupil, student) is one who practices the disciplines (instructions, teachings, precepts) of his master. So if we are undisciplined, are we truly disciples? By definition, you would have to say no. As a Christian, discipline is a word we should embrace, not reject. Jesus was the most disciplined man that ever lived. The Apostles were disciplined men. In fact, through out church history, people who led truly successful Christian lives were disciplined people. If you want to be good at something; if you want to succeed: you must be disciplined. Let’s get into God’s Word.
1Co 9:25-27 says “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” Paul was saved by God’s grace through faith. He knew legalism couldn’t get you to heaven. He walked in total freedom in Christ. Yet, he did not use that as an excuse to lead a sloppy life. He was still a disciplined man.
Paul knew a key fact about the flesh: you cannot wear kid gloves when dealing with it. You rule it, or it will rule you. If you sow to the flesh, you will reap corruption. If you sow to the spirit, you’ll reap everlasting life (Gal 6:8). Several times in Scripture, Paul uses the Olympics to teach spiritual truths. I encourage you to look these verses up before continuing (1Cor 9:25-26, Eph 6:12, 1Tim 4:7-9, 6:12, 2Tim 2:5, 4:7-8). Since many of us are watching the Olympics right now, I find this very fitting. Let’s look into the Olympic comparison.
An Olympic athlete stays completely and totally focused on one thing: the gold medal. They don’t strive for a silver; they only want the gold (1Cor 9:24, Php 3:14). They want to hear, “Well done.” (Mt 25:21) They don’t allow their flesh to rule them. If their flesh wants a Twinkie, they tell it “No.” If their flesh doesn’t feel like exercising that day, they tell it “Too bad.” They put their flesh under. They are disciplined. If they are not disciplined, they will not get the gold. Discipleship will cost you (Lk 14:25-33). You must count the cost.
Olympic athletes don’t just exercise one morning a week; they do it constantly (Act 17:11). They are very careful about what they eat (Jer 15:16, Ps 119:111). They are careful about what they drink (Eph 5:18, Prv 20:1, 23:21). They must also keep their head in the game. They can’t be distracted by letting their thoughts run wild. They must take their thoughts captive (2Cor 10:5), or they will lose. They are serious. They are focused. They are disciplined: and that’s why they’re at the Olympics. Now if they do all that to obtain a round peace of metal; should not the Christian be at least as serious about their spiritual life and walk with Jesus?
I have good news. You can get serious about God, if you will only yield (Rom 6:13, 19). As a child of God, you don’t have to do it on your own. I’m not talking about trying to keep some set of rules out of your own power. It’s through the Spirit of God dwelling in you that you are able to live the disciplined, overcoming life (Rom 8:13). Not by might nor power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord (Zech 4:6). We must desire it. We must yield. We must humble ourselves under the hand of our Loving Father. We must allow The Spirit of God to discipline us, that we be conformed more and more into the image of Jesus Christ our Lord. Until next time, rejoice in The Lord (Php 4:4)!