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The 7 Rules of Self-Discipline

A Year in the Spiritual Life... Discover Your Purpose: The 7 Rules of Self-Discipline


The 7 Rules of Self-Discipline

"Pouting" Photo Credit: Creative Commons

I don't wanna. 

That is how I feel in this moment. 

I don't want to write, I don't want to read. 

I just want to be left alone to chill (aka be lazy) and to rest on my laurels.  

Then I hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. He talks very plainly to me. He says one word: "tough". 

I get the message. 

Sometimes we have to do the things we don't want to do in order to do the things we want to do later. This is called discipline. 

This is not a fun word: discipline. 
Paul told Timothy in his second letter to him these things: 

"So, my son, throw yourself into this work for Christ. Pass on what you heard from me—the whole congregation saying Amen!—to reliable leaders who are competent to teach others. When the going gets rough, take it on the chin with the rest of us, the way Jesus did. A soldier on duty doesn't get caught up in making deals at the marketplace. He concentrates on carrying out orders. An athlete who refuses to play by the rules will never get anywhere. It’s the diligent farmer who gets the produce. Think it over. God will make it all plain." 2 Timothy 2:1-7 The Message

Overcoming Distraction

Let's face it. We have all been distracted in our lives before, or have felt lazy. I get it: we are human, but there is work to be done. The fields are ripe with harvest. 

This is a heart issue. My body may be tired, but my heart (my inner will and person-hood) is the thing that drives me. If I have the will, the discipline. then I can get over being "tired" and do what I have to do anyway. 

Proverbs 4:24-27 says "Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts. Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust." 

Let's Break it Down

1) Guard our Hearts- our Spirit, the core of our essence. This is the innermost part of us and the thing that God longs to possess. If we give it over to lusts (and laziness is a lust of the flesh) then we lose life. We begin to die from the inside out. Jesus came to give life, and life that is abundant, overflowing, and never ending. 

2) Do What You Say You Will Do- let your yes be yes and your no be no. I have been guilty of breaking this rule. I call it the "big talk, small walk" syndrome. We are afraid of displeasing people, or we want to impress them, so we say yes to things we have no business saying yes to. This sets us up for failure when all God wants for us is success

3) Avoid the Big Three: Careless Banter, White Lies and Gossip- What comes out of our mouths can either help us or harm us. No name it claim it here, just a spiritual law God put into place. Our words have power to create. "God said 'Let there be....and there was'"   We are made in His image. He tells us over and over to pay attention to what comes out of our mouth. The carelessness with which I so easily say things then quickly add "just sayin'" at the end is ridiculous. I know better. Saying ugly things, even in jest, should not be a habit I keep. Then there are the 'white lies' we tell. These are little seeds. They grow into choking vines that squeeze the life out of us: cutting off the supply of TRUTH directly to our hearts. Finally, there is gossip. Veiled as a prayer request, or just shared over coffee, the little "did you hear's" are dangerous territory. They give others the chance to be offended, they weigh us down and if we participate too often in this kind of discourse we lose credibility as Christians. 

4) Eyes on the Prize- I am not a runner, but I am familiar with goals. I know that the finish line is ultimately the goal for every runner. Yet, in a race, as in life, there are markers that let us know where we are in the race, and how far we have yet to go. If we do not keep the ultimate goal in mind, (the finish line) then we can run the chance we get distracted with the "this is far enough" mentality. We are on a journey. Paul says he presses toward the prize at the end of the race. 

5) Stay on Target! Stay on Target!- If you are a Star Wars (TM) fan you just got that reference: congrats! We have a path to victory. Is is a narrow path, but it leads to some amazing adventure. Your path can be illuminated and clear. You do not have to walk around feeling in the dark and wondering where to go next. Psalms 27:11 says "Point me down your highway, God; direct me along a well-lighted street" (The Message)
Follow the path God has for you and you will always be in the will of God for your life. 

6) No Turn Signal Needed- Not right, not left, but straight ahead. Be wary of distractions. Where our eyes look, the rest of us follows. You learn this principle in driver's ed. The many trials and errors of learning to walk resulted in falls, scrapes, and even some bruises. So why do you think your life would be any different? The most successful athletes, business people, and even movie stars will tell you that focus is essential. Don't look right, don't look left...just keep looking toward the goal. 

7) Leave Evil Behind- Do good. Love with your actions. Do the work of Christ. Love the widow and the orphan. Stop talking about your neighbor, or coveting her husband. Walk away from the things that entrap and ensnare us. Evil is fun....for a season, but it always leads to death. Shake the dust off your feet and leave your old ways behind you. 

These seven "rules" can be summed up if we live one verse above all others: "For in him we live, and move, and have our being" Acts 17:28a 

Dwelling in God's presence everyday is the ultimate way to overcome distraction. When we are focused on Him, everything else fades. 

Join the Conversation: 

What things distract you? 

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