Proverbs 5:11-12, 23
11 “And at the end of your life you will groan when your flesh and your body are wasted away. 12 And you will say, “How I hated discipline! My heart spurned reproof!” 23 He will die because there was no discipline; because of the greatness of his folly he will reel.”
1 Timothy 4:7
1 Corinthians 9:27
Our flesh despises discipline. Routine is agony and seemingly inhibits freedom. I have struggled for most of my adult life to be consistent in exercise, healthy eating and devotions. Just when I thought I mastered one of these areas, I saw how woefully wrong I was.
We never arrive. So what is the point of still trying? It is in the trying, the persisting, the pressing on that character is formed, often unknowingly to the soul that seeks to follow God closely.
Discipline gets bad publicity. It is seen as wrong in today’s society when applied to the parent/child relationship. It might even be viewed as abusive to apply punishment for a wrong done. Denying self seems brutal to many, too, because flesh is the god this world bows to.
Christ knew we would struggle to be disciplined, but He did not lower the bar. He raised the bar and demonstrated a disciplined life, yielded to God. We all prefer lavish grace – we are only human, after all. But God expects more and so should we. Lowering the bar because we are imperfect is not grace – it is laziness.
We would never accept a lackluster job performance for something we paid for, yet we expect forgiveness, mercy and understanding when we live our lives -which were bought at a high price – for self. The dichotomy of our expectations and contributions brings us to a crisis. A crisis of seeing God’s requirement and our inability to carry it out. In that moment of realization, though, we see our need of Him to help us exercise our will toward righteousness and kingdom purposes.
Being disciplined is so very hard. The flesh wars against our soul and is a pushy personality. It wants what it wants – when it wants it. Paul understood this and battled against his flesh, too. This is where victory lies – staying in the battle. When failure after failure pile up as witnesses against us, we rise again to battle, because the war is already won. To give up is not an option – we are not defeated if we will only continue to deny the flesh and ask God to help us choose the disciplined path.
Lord, thank You for your grace. Your laws and precepts are perfect and medicine to our soul. What we perceive as discipline is what we really need. Thank You for Your patience, LORD. Help us to walk in victory, faithfully following Your decrees all for Your glory.