When you hear the word "self-discipline", what comes to mind?
Maybe you think about your physical wellness. Maybe you think about making healthy food choices - maybe you think about being disciplined to avoid indulging in fast food or disciplined about drinking a certain amount of water every day. Maybe you think about being self-discipled about sticking to a training schedule for an upcoming race, or being disciplined about going to the gym on a regular basis.
We know that those disciplines aren't always easy, but ultimately they are for our good.
But what about our spiritual wellness?
We understand the need for disciplines for having a healthy body, but the idea of "spiritual disciplines" seems to have fallen out of favor for many in our culture. Some reject these disciplines saying they are too legalistic - and yes, we must remember those disciplines can never take the place of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. But maybe we need to recapture the idea of spiritual disciplines not for our salvation, but for our spiritual health.
We live in a very self-indulgent world. Everything is designed to be customized to our preferences and for our comfort. We don't like the idea of denying ourselves anything. We justify purchases we can't afford because "we deserve it." We cut corners or avoid the truth when it's uncomfortable. We want what we want, the way we want it, when we want it - don't we?
But that's not the life God has called us to live.
We read in 2 Timothy 1:7 that "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of self-discipline."
But we're free, aren't we? It's all about grace, right? How does self-discipline tie into that?
Somehow we have forgotten that freedom does not equal self-indulgence.
As Paul so eloquently put it,
"But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don't use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love." Galatians 5:13
I've heard people say, "God is more concerned with your holiness than your happiness." But what if those two things aren't mutually exclusive? What if a life of holiness is what will ultimately lead to a life of happiness?
God loves you, my friend. He loves you just as you are. You don't have to earn His love, or perform up to a certain set of standards for Him to accept you. You don't have to complete a checklist or achieve some standard of perfection to be "good enough" for His love.
But He longs for you to live in the freedom that He offers. The freedom that He died to give you.
So in light of that, let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1)
What are those actions of "self-discipline" that God is calling you to for your spiritual health?
Maybe it's being around other believers on a weekly basis in a church gathering. Maybe
it's reading or studying His Word. Maybe it's saying "no" to something you know is not God's best for you. Maybe it's spending time in prayer.
You are loved, beyond measure. Walk in that love today.