Disciplining yourself to do what you know is the right thing to do, at the right time, is a key to a flourishing relationship with God. How many times have you been tempted to do the wrong thing and, ignoring the warning bells going off inside, you give into the temptation? Every time we find ourselves at a decision point, we must ask ourselves how Jesus would decide in such a moment.
When faced with a moral decision, the spirit of Christ within us informs us which way we should go. The problem is, the choice we know to be consistent with the character of Christ is often the more difficult path to walk. A narrow path is always more problematic to traverse than a wider one.
Disciplining yourself in the smaller choices of life builds your discipline muscle. When you get lazy in the little things, you stand no chance when facing the bigger issues coming your way. For example, we know we should put God first in all things, but how many of us live this out? How often do we wake in the morning, late again, only to rush out of the house without giving hardly a thought to Jesus? Or how many of us take the first portion of our paycheck and give it away to those in need before we pay our own bills? This is nothing but lip-service commitment, and the reason we fail is because we haven’t built the disciplines that will cause our life to reflect our convictions.
If we want to draw closer to God, we’re going to need to live lives that look more like His. If we don’t know Him, how can we expect to live a life worthy of Him? We’re going to need to get close, and achieving this requires establishing some disciplines in our lives which will reflect His character and priorities. Every habit, good or bad, will dictate the course of your life. Let me show you how this plays out in my own life.
When I neglect the habit of beginning my day in prayer, I tend to also disregard my workout routine. When I don’t exercise, I tend not to eat as healthy. When I don’t eat well, I have less patience with others, and less critical thinking skills to deal with what comes my way. When I have a dreadful day, I tend to continue not eating so well when I get home, which means I don’t sleep well. If I don’t sleep well, what do you suppose the odds are I’m going to get up early the next morning to pray? And the cycle begins again…
All of this could have been avoided simply by disciplining myself to begin my day in prayer. It’s a simple and easy thing to do. But we must never forget, what is easy to do is also easy not to do. Disciplining yourself is both easy and difficult. It is easy in that anyone can do it; no exceptional skills are required. It is difficult because it will require you to put Jesus first, and yourself second (or perhaps third or fourth). Most aren’t willing to do this; they would rather enjoy life now and hope for the best later. Disciples of Jesus are a different breed. We are willing to sacrifice short-lived enjoyment in exchange for an eternity with our Creator. Are you willing to begin disciplining yourself, or will you be content with the way things are? Your decision will dictate your future.