To some freedom and discipline will seem like a mismatch, but I hope you will think again. Any musician, athlete, performer knows the freedom that comes with the discipline of their craft. The reason they have the freedom to be excellent in their ability, to do what they are able to do with joy, is because they have taken the time to employ discipline in their learning. If they had not done so, they would be free to play well.
Discipline is training, practice, immersion in the facets of and obedience to the rules of a system of learning of an activity or of life in general. Without it, we never develop depth or expertise in a particular area of interest. We will always be limited and lack the freedom that comes with knowing something fully.
- Discipline as a life skill helps us develop healthy habits and resist those which lead to addictions. Again the avenue to freedom is discipline.
- Any employer will tell you how liberating it is for them to have an employee they can count on to arrive on time, get the job done as expected, trust to finish what he has set out to accomplish. These are all marks of discipline.
- A child who has been disciplined, has manners, can interact more freely and comfortably with those of all ages.
The Christian life is no different. However, many of us who call ourselves Christian have become lazy in the spiritual disciplines of the faith. Without practicing these disciplines, we become flabby and ineffective just as one does in any area of life that requires discipline. What are these disciplines?
- Spending time in the Word of God - including reading, memorizing, and meditating on the Word
- Prayer - spending time with God both alone and corporately with other members of the faith
- Worship - which would include church attendance as well as the state in which we live our lives
- Evangelism - sharing our faith as ambassadors for the kingdom of God
- Service - having a servant’s heart to be the hands and feet of Christ within our community and to the world
- Stewardship - realizing everything we have belongs to God, the earth, what we own, our relationships, all belong to God and so we should care for it as such and be willing to give back to Him at least the portion He lays on our hearts to give
- Fasting refraining in some way from something to more fully focus on Christ, the direction of the Holy Spirit, and a life of holiness and selflessness
- Surrender - putting the Lord’s calling on our lives in all areas above our own desires, in fact making His good pleasure the main desire of our hearts knowing that His good pleasure is really meant for our good as well
- Fellowship - meeting with others in the faith involves being with like-minded people at play, in study, in worship, for encouragement, for accountability, and more
- Gratitude - giving thanks in everything and in every circumstance as a practice of life. This discipline would turn our lives upside down and get rid of the need for a number of medications
There are more but how many of us even practice these regularly. If we who call ourselves Christian would practice these disciplines, oh the freedom and joy we would unleash. Could it be that we do not see a vibrant impact of the Christian church today because the world does not see the freedom we have in Christ without the discipline of the faith practiced among its members?
... On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness;
Three good books on Spiritual Discipline:
Christian Disciplines: Building Strong Christian Character by Oswald Chambers
Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard Foster
The Disciplines of the Christian Life by Eric Liddell
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