It feels great to be in control of something powerful. Solomon said in the book of Proverbs,
“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” (Proverbs 16:32).
Solomon says, “It’s great to have power. It’s great to have control. But if you can’t control yourself, it’s not worth much.” That’s so true. Conquering a city is nothing compared to overcoming the habits that enslave you. Controlling a ship is nothing compared to managing your temper or your tongue.
What is Self-Discipline?
Doing those things involves self-control or self-discipline. When you think about the word “discipline,” there are probably several different things that come to mind. To a child, it probably means getting a spanking for doing something he shouldn’t have done. To a soldier, discipline means conforming to the regulations, obedience to orders, kitchen duty, and reveille on cold mornings. To a student, discipline means a class with a lot of work and exams.
And all of these are correct. All of those are aspects of discipline. But all of those things are examples of imposed discipline in which one person or group forces or pushes another person to follow or obey. A parent disciplines his child to teach him obedience; the Army disciplines the soldier to teach strict compliance, a school will discipline by making students do the work, And the church disciplines to encourage members to remain faithful.
And we could take the same approach in dealing with the need to control aspects of our lives. But imposed discipline has only limited value. There’s another kind of training that’s much more important to us as Christians: self-discipline. The Bible uses the words “self-control” and “temperance” to describe this quality. It is one of the fruits of the Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23). It is one of the Christian graces that we are to grow in. “Add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control….” (2 Peter 1:5-6).
Why Do We Need to Be Disciplined?
Everything in life requires some sort of discipline. Whether it’s hitting a baseball, climbing a mountain, playing a musical instrument, or making good grades, it all comes down to a matter of discipline. A young person wants to become a doctor or a critical scientist, but he doesn’t want to buckle down to years of hard study. Many young people would like to achieve greatness in music but never will because of the long hours of practice required yearly.
The Christian life is no different. The Church is filled with people who would love to be mature Christians with a tremendous knowledge of God’s Word. But they’re not willing to pay the price to achieve it. The world is full of naturally brilliant people who will never be anything more than ordinary because they aren’t ready to make the sacrifice necessary to become great. And the Church is full of people like that, too.
What Parts of Our Lives Do We Need to Discipline?
A. We need to discipline our minds, to train ourselves to think.
Paul wrote to Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
B. We also need to discipline our bodies.
Paul also says that “bodily exercise profits a little” (I Timothy 4:8a). Our bodies are all we have to serve God with, and it makes sense that the better we care for these bodies, the better we can serve God.
C. We need a disciplined moral character.
“For bodily exercise profits a little, but Godliness is profitable in all things.” (I Timothy 4:8). A disciplined body is of some value, but a disciplined character is of higher value.
D. We also need to discipline our speech.
No matter how self-controlled you are, if you haven’t disciplined your tongue, you’ve still got a way to go.
James said, “If anyone among you thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this one’s religion is useless.” (James 1:26).
Discipline is a good thing and something that we all need to develop. To develop the self-discipline we need is going to take a great desire on our part to want to change what needs to be changed, a will-power to see it through, and the power that God offers us through his Son Jesus Christ.
Do you think Jesus is pleased with the way you are living your life? Are you living a disciplined Godly life?
Go to Romans Road to Salvation and/or Prayer of Rededication