The Quality of Discipline
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. 1 Corinthians 9:26-27
Character, not charisma is the essence of true Christianity. It is not just enough to be called a Christian; you must also conduct yourself as a Christian. Be a Christian both in word and indeed. You simply can’t rise as a Christian above the limitation of your character. There are certain qualities that help to shape Christian character and one of these qualities is Discipline. Discipline is the gateway to a life of distinction and it yields great rewards to those who value it.
Discipline is the willingness to do what is required regardless of your personal mood or feeling in order to get what is desired. A disciplined person is not driven by his feelings; he is purpose-driven, not emotion-driven. Mark 8: 34-35. Discipline requires that you deny your flesh of certain pleasures and make the necessary sacrifices required to achieve your goal. 2 Timothy 2: 1-7; only those who are willing to pay the price will win the prize! If you desire success, you must be willing to give in to the demands of Scripture. 1 Corinthian 9: 24-27; as Christian, discipline is an inseparable aspect of who we are. In fact, the entire word "Christian" is simply another word for "disciple" and disciple is a branch form of the root word "discipline". To be a Christian, you must be disciplined. Below are four areas we ought to be discipline as Christians in order to make our walk with Christ fruitful and our time on earth enjoyable.
A spiritual discipline is the regular performance of actions and activities undertaken for the purpose of cultivating spiritual development. There are spiritual disciplines that help us become stronger in our faith. Examples like; praying (Luke 18:1), fasting (Mathew 6:16-18), studying of the word (2 timothy 2:15) and meditation (Joshua 1:8). These spiritual exercises help us see His will for our lives more clearly so that we can live the life He desires for us. The more we practice these spiritual disciplines, the better we get at them, and the stronger we become in our faith. By practicing them, we keep our eyes on God. When we focus on God, we stop allowing other things get in our way or cloud our vision. Our lives find clarity when we become more disciplined in our spiritual live.
The second area of Christian discipline relate to other people. God is Love, and while the giving and receiving of this love may have started between you and God, it must be passed on to others. The truth is that we are so focused on the selfish aspects of relationships (e.g. emotional experiences, sentimentalism, etc.) that we fail to realize that the most practical way to express love to others is simply to serve others-in love. John 13:12-17. According to Mathew 7:1-12; we have to discipline ourselves not to be judgmental of people before getting to know them. The expression of God’s love is the practice of giving twice as much as we are asked. Matthew 5:40-42. It is so easy to want to give the minimum, whereas true love goes above and beyond the call of duty.
While our relationship with God and with others should be our highest priorities, we must not neglect our own physical needs. Remember, we are spiritual being living in a body. It is important to make time and effort to care for the temple that God has given us. Apart from exercising, there are a few other aspects of our health and well-being, which need to be taken into consideration as well. Example is Self-discipline in the area of nutrition. It is important to exercise wisdom and self-discipline in what we choose to eat. Simply going for what is easiest, or for what most greatly appeals to our "flesh", may bring us temporary pleasures in the short-term, but is sure to undermine our Christian service in the long-term, if left unchecked. It is also important that we are adequately groomed/clean, and maintain sufficient amounts of rest. Regular showers, rest, and changing/washing of clothes may seem simple and basic at a glance, and yet they can easily be neglected, if one is not diligent.
According to Luke 10:27; we are commanded to love God with all of our mind, in addition to all of our "heart", "soul", and "strength". Loving God with our entire mind" in simple terms means; if we want to be a fully functioning Christians, we cannot afford to turn our brains off (neglecting our mental abilities). Take time to improve your mental discipline, and you will be of better service to the kingdom as a result. The area of mental development has to do with learning new skills through inspirational reading and through experience. Reading inspirational books and articles, and listening to audio messages will develop you mentally and you will be able to keep up with this information and technology evolving world.
Don’t underestimate the importance of consistency. Getting a good balance and being consistent in these four areas will help us to persevere in the long run in our spiritual walk.