The word discipline has become a negative word in today's society. When people hear this word, they immediately think something bad, getting into trouble or being punished. We have let the word discipline and punishment become synonyms. I want to submit to you that we need to reframe our perspective on discipline and reprogram our brains to think of discipline as a good thing, especially for us as Christians. The Bible says in 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV), if my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Society has become a wicked and perverse generation, just as the Bible has predicted. So how do we change this?
The answer is discipline. Discipline is defined as, “the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior.” Discipline is training and education, for which there is no substitute. We need discipline in our lives, both internally and externally. If I can’t discipline myself to wake up on time, I’ll be late for work and get fired. I need internal or intrinsic discipline to get the duties and responsibilities that are required and asked of me to get done accomplished. As a Christian I need the discipline to practice the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, silence, Bible study, reading books, and journaling, to name a few. All of these disciplines require discipline on my part to perform them. Externally, I need discipline in my life from my boos, peers, and co-workers to keep me on the right path, the straight and narrow. External discipline is when we need to be redirected, adjusted or trained to fix a problem or situation. The scripture I referenced for today’s devotional says, we need to turn from our wicked ways. In order to switch from my evil ways, I first need to humble myself and realize that there is a problem with what I’m doing, but then I need to discipline myself to correct the issue. This might require both internal and external forms of discipline.
First, I need to humble myself, as John the Baptist said speaking about Jesus, “I must decrease, and He must increase.” The key to servanthood is humility, I must think of myself less, this requires discipline and training. When you are training a dog to sit, the dog does not get it on the first try. Statistics show that it requires 60 repetitions for a dog to learn a new command or trick. During this process, the dog is being taught, corrected or disciplined externally by the owner and is disciplining itself by listening, internally. What I want you to see from this analogy, is that this is a process. Humility and discipline are processes as well that go hand and hand together. I must discipline myself to stay humble. I must check myself before I wreck myself when I get too cocky or arrogant. This discipline may come internally, me disciplining myself or externally, someone else bringing it to my attention thus disciplining me.
The goals for us is to become disciples of Christ through humility and discipline. We are striving towards Holiness and Christ-like perfection. To move forward as disciples, I need to develop the discipline to humble myself. We need to develop the discipline to practice the spiritual disciplines mentioned above, even when we don’t feel like it. Discipline is a good thing in our lives that we all need as we become disciples of the highest God!
What is your perspective on discipline? Do you need to reframe it based on today's teaching? Are their areas in your life where you are not very disciplined? If so, ask a trusted friend or fellow Christian to help you, this requires an exercise in humility. Where do you need to practice the spiritual disciplines better?