I want to be more disciplined…
- In reading the Bible.
- In praying.
- In disconnecting from electronics.
- In how I eat.
- In exercise.
- In how I use my time.
- In how I handle money.
- In the mornings.
- In how I disciple my kids at home.
- In the words I use.
Anything resonate with you? Yeah, me too. Self-discipline is something we all want more of in at least one or multiple areas of our lives. So what do we do with that? Are we stuck in a perpetual state of 1 step forward, 2 steps back?
Self-discipline/self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 says, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things. So self-control (self-discipline) is produced in us by the Holy Spirit. When we see evidence of self-control in our lives, that is evidence not of our power, but the Spirit’s.
So if self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, then a lack of self-control is a fruit of the flesh. We know that from what Paul shares earlier in Galatians 5. The Spirit and our flesh are in opposition with one another. Our flesh desires fleshly things (examples listed in Galatians 5:19-21) which all have at their base a lack of self-control/self-discipline.
Therefore, it should not surprise us that seeking to grow in a spirit of self-discipline feels like a battle. Because it is. It is an internal battle between our old flesh, sin and pride, and our new identity in Christ. Colossians 3 reminds us to continually put off the old ways, and put on the new ways, as we set our hearts and minds on things above.
Here are three encouraging steps that I have found helpful in growing in a spirit of self-discipline in my life.
Don’t skip over this one. In an effort to grow in self-discipline, we often want to jump straight to doing something and taking action. Well, I’ve found that this is where it starts. Confessing to the Lord where we lack self-discipline and asking Him to do the supernatural work of growing in us such a spirit. You and I won’t grow in self-discipline, apart from His power and grace. It is a fruit of the Spirit, not our personal strength. So we ask, and continually ask, our all-powerful and ever present Father to do His work in us. To make us more like Christ.
Courage is the opposite of fear. In the Bible, the Lord commands Joshua this way in Joshua 1:9, Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Be strong and courageous. Why? Because you’re tough man, Joshua? Because the army around you is strong, Joshua? Because you can do it Joshua! No. Joshua is commanded to be courageous for one reason. Because the Lord his God is with him where he will go. Continually in the Bible, we see when the Lord commands us to fear not, He accompanies that command with the truth that He is present and will not forsake. For instance, Jesus commands the disciples to go and make disciples across the earth (a daunting and potentially fear-inducing command), but then reminds them, I will be with you, to the very end of the age. And I am the One with all the authority in heaven and on earth.
In order to grow in self-discipline, you and I are going to need Godly courage. Courage to start, courage to get back up after failing, courage to humbly repent, courage to start walking up the mountain before us, courage to fight against our past ways, courage to take the first step, courage to face the fear of failure.
The enemy of our souls would want nothing more than to see us gripped and paralyzed by fear. But God’s people are commanded over and over to fear not. And we can reject fear, because our God has not rejected us. He is present, powerful and ever faithful.
You and I will not grow in a spirit of self-discipline alone and isolated. I think we’ve all tried that, and it doesn’t lead to lasting change. There are no mythical gold stars handed out to those who do it alone. We were designed by God to live in community with one another and depend upon one another. So not only do we need to confess to our Father in Heaven, but we then need to turn our confession to fellow brothers and sisters in the family of God. Asking others to pray for us, encourage us, help us, and spur us on. We need to give siblings in the family of God full and complete access to our hearts. Siblings who will love us enough to not just tell us what we want to hear, but what we need to hear. And not only that, but we need to ask others to go with us.
In any of the examples at the beginning of this post (or a hundred others), we should be asking fellow Christ followers, will you go with me/us? Will you confess alongside me/us? Will you take courage and reject fear, alongside me/us? Our pride will fight up against sharing our need and lack with others. But then again, we’re told in multiple places in Scripture, God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. We’ll need His grace to grow, and one way God extends grace to us is through the family of God.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 is so powerfully and practically true, when it says, Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.
May we be people who confess our sin, need, dependency, and trust in our God. May we be people who reject fearful living, and instead courageously walk by faith, trusting that our God is more than able to produce in us a spirit of self-discipline. And may we be people who pursue a growing self-discipline, together and alongside one another for His glory alone.