Developing discipline, developing character
I’m not good at routine. Those of you who are familiar with Meyers Briggs will understand why when I say that I’m an NP – big picture, last minute, don’t like to feel trapped by plans, pioneer. This is part of my God-given DNA, but sadly I’ve also used it as an excuse to neglect some of what are known as “the spiritual disciplines”.
I didn’t like fasting; one of the “spiritual disciples”. You got to read how God addressed that in my last post – and how I’m coming to love it because of the fruit it produces. But this is the whole point of the “spiritual disciplines” – to produce fruit of righteousness within us, developing our character and pushing us towards God. They help us to disciple our mind and body to focus on the things of God, rather than the things of this earth.
Scripture has a lot to say on discipline. We are to discipline/ train ourselves, and God also disciplines us as a loving Father. Some of the disciplines give life to us and refresh our souls from the start, others feel painful as we enter into them, but they all bear fruit of righteousness.
Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:7-8)
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. (Hebrews 12:8)
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. (Revelation 3:19)
My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. (Proverbs 3:11-14)
I recently enjoyed reading this article on What are the Spiritual Disciplines. It focuses on what can and cannot be a Biblical spiritual discipline, rather than prescribing a list. I also love that it reminds us that we are not under the Law; we live out these spiritual disciplines from a place of sonship, as children who want to spend time with our loving Father.
The Bible also teaches us that we are to train up each other, and those of us with children are to train them up, too. But how are we to train up others, if we first don’t train ourselves? We need to get experience in order to become teachers!
Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. (Titus 2:7-8).
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, (Titus 2:3-4).
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6).
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)
What training would the Lord have you grow your muscles in? What disciplines do you need to get back into? Are you trying to discipline your children, without disciplining yourself in the ways of God? Do you need accountability – such as a Bible study group to study the Word, or a walking partner with whom to pray and intercede? Ask God how you can draw closer to Him through discipline.