There’s no better way to start a new series of posts on being disciplined than by confessing laziness. For the past few weeks the blog has been a little neglected and seen only a handful of visitors (thank you for the stats wordpress). Hopefully that will change with this next series. If you would look deep down and forgive me it would really be appreciated and go a long way!
There’s a wonderful little book in our church library edited by Nancy Guthrie entitled: O Love that Will Not Let Me Go: Facing Death with Courageous Confidence in God (thanks Heather Okrafka for telling me about said book). For the record, it’s not for old people or people who know they’re going to die soon. We’re all going to die, and with that being true, we should probably prepare for it before it actually happens (but that’s another topic).
One of the chapters in the book is by Randy Alcorn called “Finishing with Few Regrets” and he reminded me of something I’ve taught on, but not for a while: spiritual disciplines. He writes, “Following Christ isn’t magic. It requires repeated actions on our part, which develop into habits and life disciplines.”
Pausing for a brief moment, and taking stock of your own life, where would you place yourself on the scale between lazy and disciplined? How about spiritually? Perhaps in some areas you’re happily nearer the disciplined side than lazy side. And perhaps in other areas you’re sadly nearer the lazy side rather than the disciplined side. Making room for the always present self-deception: those of you on the lazy side probably consider yourself more disciplined than you really are and those of you on the disciplined side probably consider yourself more lazy than you really are. Don’t you just hate that? Maybe it would be a good idea to ask someone who knows you well where to put you on the scale (make sure they agree to be honest rather than nice before they answer). Wherever you may be between spiritually lazy or disciplined, I hope this next series of posts will help.
Before we go much further (or is it farther, I never know…) let’s take a brief biblical look as to why, as Christ-followers, we are to be disciplined. Here’s what Paul writes to young Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:7b-8:
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.
The word train (or exercise, or discipline depending upon translation) is the Greek word gumnasio. Looks familiar, right? It’s where our English word gymnasium comes from. So what we’re going to be talking about is working out spiritually. Many of us exercise our bodies because, as Paul recognizes, it has benefit for us. But, exercising for the purpose of godliness is of even greater benefit, because it not only impacts us here and now, but also for the life to come, for eternity. Can you think of any better pursuit than this?
But it’s hard. It’s tough. The word gymnasium conjures images of weights, and treadmills, and ellipticals, and pushy instructors, and sweat, and pain. If you’ve spent any time in the Christian faith you’ll know that regular Bible reading, and prayer, and tithing, and worship, and serving others is also hard. Many times we hit walls and give up. For some reason we seem to think that conforming to Christ’s image should be easy, and when it’s not, we quit. These posts will aim to help you pick up wherever you may have left off.
I would encourage you to memorize the verses quoted above (which, hooray, is one of the spiritual disciplines!),
Put yourself honestly on the scale between lazy and disciplined. And then ask yourself: where would you rather be?