Disciplined Living

Discipline is not a word that most people enjoy hearing. We live in a world that avoids discipline in all its forms at all cost. We have very little patience, we are usually never satisfied, we often do not delay gratification, and we frequently shirk responsibility. But, what we must understand is that discipline and discipleship are inherently linked. As disciples of Christ, we are called to look very different over time.
Paul states in Galatians that these are the qualities we should have:  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:22-25 CSB
These qualities exist in stark contrast to the characteristics found in verses 19-21. The key sentence that I want to hone in on is the last one: “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” V.25

In order to, “keep in step,” with someone, what are some things that must be true? First, we must be close to that person. So how do we get close to the Holy Spirit? We must spend time in God’s Word daily. Time in God’s Word creates intimacy with the Spirit, whereby He leads us step by step. What is great about the Spirit is that He wants to be close to us and therefore closes the gap for us more than we ever close the gap to Him. Second, we have to communicate with the person with whom we want to keep in step. Think of any relationship you have. How hard is it to try and figure out what the other person wants without talking to them? I can say (from experience) that it is nearly impossible. So, beyond spending time in the Bible, we must pray. Christ encourages us to pray this way in Matthew chapter 7: “Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8 CSB). The Spirit will not hide His will from us if we ask to know it in order to follow Him. He isn’t trying to trip us up but rather, as stated earlier, He is working to draw us closer to Him. Finally, we must listen. In order to listen we must remove distractions from our lives. This might look like deleting a social media app, ditching cable, or no tablets in the bedroom at night.

Overall, we must understand that discipline is not necessarily formulaic. All of these things work together congruently in the context of a relationship. We are meant to grow in these things daily as we learn to walk with the Lord. Don’t let this seem like a daunting task that has to be completed immediately. Paul refers to a Christian journey as a marathon, not as a sprint. Sanctification is a work of the Spirit that will look different for each of us. The important thing we must do is learn to abide in Him and follow as He leads. The world will know our discipline in Christ by the fruit produced in our life. Take a moment to look at the fruit of your life. Ask a trusted brother or sister to give you input from what they see. Then, whether or good or bad, abide in Christ, read His Word, pray for His will and wisdom, and listen and live out His calling.

By His Grace,

Austin Strange