I have a love-hate relationship with this word. (Right now, more hate than love - but that's slowly changing!) I love it because of what it can bring to one's life: order, the ability to commit to whatever, stability in finances, health....the list goes on. I hate it because it is one of the weakest areas in my life. That scripture in Romans 7 where Paul shares about his struggle to do the things he knows are right, but time after time, he does the things he knows are wrong - this is my struggle with self-discipline. It is something to be practiced. A choice to make. The right thing to excercise in my life, yet time after time, I choose the path of least resistance.
In our home group meeting the other week, my group was talking about overcoming adversity or trials in our lives. As you may know from your own walk with God, our mind is a major battlefield in which satan and his minions wage war against us. Many people are bound by the struggle taking place in their mind and simply sharing that struggle can help to overcome it. It loses it's grip on you when it is shared. You know, "bear one another's burdens..." - a heavy load is much lighter when shared. Well, I'm coming clean with a couple of struggles in my life - I'm baring my soul, so be nice! :) I have finally decided it is time to choose to be disciplined in the areas concerning my health and finances. I have made a decision to be intentional with the choices I make in these two areas. Eating healthy, excercising and managing my money are particular struggles I face. I know I can change - I've done it before. Especially with God's help!
Now before you wonder what's brought this about - I haven't been diagnosed with some terrible disease and (thank God!) I'm not on the verge of bankruptcy - but if I'm not careful, I could be facing both of those situations. In a devotional by Larry Burkett he asserts that God designed us to be disciplined people. The lack of self-discipline leads to a variety of problems. In another article he says that there are "several symptoms associated with a lack of self-discipline: confusion, indulgence, sloppiness, and a lack of prayer and Bible study. The symptoms can be glossed over by pretending to be spiritual, but the residual effects (debt, depression, [bad health]) can be solved by correcting the lack of discipline." OUCH! When I read this, I was immediately convicted. There have been many times I wondered why I couldn't sense any direction from God, why couldn't I commit to living healhty or why things weren't going well financially - it was all because I had not addressed the lack of self-discipline in my life.
There is a parable in Luke 19 where Jesus talks about the slaves who were given a portion of their master's money to do business with while he was away. When the master returned, he asked each slave what they did with the coin given to them. One slave had taken what was given to him and multiplied it by ten. The master said "Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities." Eventually, the slave that had done nothing with his money was reprimanded and his one coin was taken from him and given to someone else. I don't want to lose what I have - my health, finances, talents - because I wasn't faithful with it. Self-discipline protects against that.
So, now I am addressing the issue of self-discipline in my life. I am taking the first step on this journey. I know it will be difficult, but I also know how much bigger my God is than anything I might face. This week, He came through in my life again. Just when I wasn't looking or expecting it - He blessed me. I know I can trust Him with all the "stuff" of my life and I'm looking forward to what He will do in me and through me.