Saturday, April 2, 2011

D is for Discipline

Continuing from the previous post,(read it here) the word for today is discipline. Merriam-Webster defines discipline as (1) punishment (2) obsolete instruction (3) training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character (5) control gained by enforcing obedience or order (a) orderly or prescribed conduct  or pattern of behavior (b) self control (6) a rule or system of rules governing conduct or activity. I really wrote the full definition because it fascinates me how all of them apply to the topic at hand.

Turning to the Word of God, the final authority we find these scriptures addressing discipline.

Hebrews 12:11  Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but  painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

This scripture speaks to the believer as well as the non believer very clearly. I know a lot of people feel as though living as a Christian is "not fun". They are too wrapped up in a sinful lifestyle that salvation is the last thing on their mind because what they are doing is "working for them now". Some non believers feel there are too many rules and expectations of Christ like behavior so why bother at all. Then you also have some "intellectual", "modern" people that feel as though the Bible is irrelevant  for today's lifestyle and times. This scripture admits, yes this walk is hard, but it is worth it if you commit. Having a life free of conflict, guilt and sin seems more relevant today as any other time and worth the commitment.

To the believer, this scripture is encouraging, to know that the life you chosen isn't always fun or easy but AFTERWARD the results are the peaceable (free from argument and conflict) fruit of righteousness (acting in accord with divine law : free from guilt and sin.).

I would like to point out to non believers that is says free FROM guilt and sin, not free OF guilt and sin. As believers our acceptance of Christ made us righteous. ( Romans 6:23 The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord) Sin equals death, as a non believer you pay for your sins with your death. However, by accepting Christ as your Savior the price of your sins have been paid, thus giving you eternal life. So it boils down to Christ fronting the bill for your sins when you make him Lord of your life.

Returning to discipline the next scripture is:

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Do you not know that those who run in a  race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

Paul uses a beautiful analogy in this scripture about the lifestyle of a disciple. Here he illustrates that you must be focused on the prize and to do so you must discipline the body. Like an athlete eats, exercise, train, sleep for their crown or trophy, we as Christians must do the same for the crown of life. We have to eat of the word continuously, exercise faith, love, self control, train our mouths to speak life. This isn't a one time event but a continuous commitment, a LIFESTYLE!

Galatians 5:22-23- But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

You are identified by your fruit. You would not see pecans on a tree and call it an orange tree. So as people our characteristics accurately shows the world who we are. Exercising self control is a marker of who you are. As a disciple the fruit of the Spirit should be present and operating in your life. If the fruit aren't present then look at you life like a car with a check engine light on. Something needs to be repaired, sin is operating in your life and needs to come to an end.

2 Timothy 1:7 (AMP) For God did not give us the spirit of timidity, but of power and love and of a calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self control.

In previous scriptures discipline, self-control was something we exerted, labored to do. However in 2 Timothy it is given by God.  I like that. It brings clarity to my misconception. Self-control is not a conscience effort, rather a gift and like any other gift you own it and choose to do what you like with it. If you received stand mixer for you birthday and wanted to make cheesecake. You would have to choose to use it for best results or leave it idle and hope for the best. (and there is little hope there) 

However I have felt self control that was really none of my control. Maybe you have experienced it as well, when the enemy attacked you so blatantly and viciously you wanted to and thought about retaliating in a sinful manner. But this indescribable peace submerged you. You were well aware of the circumstances but God did  not allow you to feel or react as others may have expected, thus you outwardly displayed self control but you know it was nothing but God's doing. 

Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

It is our calling as disciples of Christ to be disciplined, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts. This scriptures puts my seeking into a nut shell. You aren't being a disciple of Christ if you are not disciplined. You must overcome you flesh and live sober, righteous, and godly NOW. Our Savior is coming and as His people this what we must do. We must live lives that are reflective of who we are but more importantly who we belong to. He commands that we are zealous for good works. We go out into the world eager to be of service, eager to give, eager to help and heal. We have to spread His love, His Word, His ministry. We are his disciples, that is what we do and who we are.

Well I thank God for speaking to me, now I know disciple and discipline go hand in hand. I pray that these writings have illuminated the Word of God for you and that you will put it to practice in your life. Please share your comments, scriptures, and prayer request below. Be blessed.

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