5 Steps for Living With Discipline

The Christian life is meant to be a disciplined life. Consider just a couple of passages that bring this out:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Cor. 9:24–27).

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Heb. 12:1–2).

See it? If the Christian life is a race, then we have to train for it like a race. That means living like an athlete; it means living with discipline. 

But that’s hard, isn’t it? Of course it is. That’s why it’s called “discipline.” It means engaging in habits and patterns of living that don’t come naturally; they only come through concentrated and consistent effort. Now to be clear, the kind of discipline we are talking about isn’t an attempt to earn God’s favor; we already have that because of Jesus. We are talking about discipline that honors God and lives in the middle of grace. Discipline that focuses our minds and hearts.

That kind of discipline is easier said than done. But here are five tips to try and help us get there:

1. Whatever you do, do it in faith. 

The temptation when you engage in spiritual discipline is to emphasize the will. But it doesn’t have to be that way; in fact, if it is that way, our efforts are doomed to fail because our best efforts will run out of steam. Instead, we should focus on faith. We should swing our legs out of bed in belief that God wants to meet with us. We should fast in faith that Jesus is better. We should make the conscious effort to refocus on belief, rather than exclusively the will.

2. Accompany spiritual discipline with physical exercise. 

The gospel engages the whole person: mental, spiritual and even physical. For me, when I am exercising physically it helps me tremendously in spiritual exercise, if for no other reason than it wakes me up and gets the blood pumping.

3. Set yourself up for success. 

If we are going to try and read the Bible in the morning, we need to set it out and get it ready the night before. We may need to set the automatic timer on the coffee maker. We definitely need to go to bed early enough the night before. We need to do anything we can in advance to make it as easy and convenient as possible for us to be disciplined.

4. Be consistent. 

I’ve tried to set my alarm at a different time each day, according to what I had going on in the day. I would set the alarm for an hour or so before I needed to be somewhere or do something, and each day it was either a little earlier or a little later than the day before. It doesn’t work. When you choose to set your alarm for the same time, you establish a rhythm in your body and it gets a little easier every day.

5. Be realistic. 

For me, that means scheduling a day a week for a break. If I know I can sleep a little later on Saturday or Sunday, it helps me on those difficult mornings.

These are simple actions, but they are effective toward achieving the kind of overall disciplined life that honors the Lord. Won’t you, by his grace, give it a try today?

Read more from Michael Kelley »

This article originally appeared on thinke.org and is reposted here by permission.