The Only Thing Stopping Me Is Me
"For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)
For most areas of my life, the only thing holding me back from achieving my goals is me.
I know what I should do … what I could do … but when it comes right down to it, excuses slip in and override my good intentions:
- I want to read my Bible every day, but I’m tired and the kids are so loud.
- I could go to the gym, but I’m sure the elliptical machines will be taken by now.
- I should start a diet … but this lasagna and garlic bread are calling my name! I’ll start tomorrow.
And so it goes. The Bible says the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (Mark 14:38). I must be a super weakling, because self-discipline is as unnatural to me as exercise.
Recently, I heard today’s key verse read over the radio and it gave me a new perspective on self-discipline. It’s a familiar verse to me and I love the first part of it: "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline" (2 Timothy 1:7).
Some versions of the Bible say God did not give us a spirit of fear. I love the idea of not being afraid or timid. I cheer when I read that!
And He gives us "power" … woo hoo!
And "love" … YES, YES I want more of that.
I know this verse well. But when I heard it read aloud, for the first time that last word jumped out at me: "self-discipline." Have you ever seen a cartoon character come to a screeching halt, with dust and pebbles flying?
I seriously wondered how someone snuck that word into my Bible without me noticing it before.
Apparently, God had been offering me the gift of self-discipline, and I’d been ignoring it. So I decided to give it a try the next week on something mundane that I really didn’t want to do.
I had ignored my ironing for a while, and decided to tackle the laundry baskets. After an hour, stopping sounded great. But I remembered the verse and asked the Lord for the self-discipline to continue. I kept going. I’m guessing you’ve never let your ironing pile up like this, but I ironed for three more hours until every last shirt was pressed. (Now I know there are lots of other issues surrounding this fact, like why I iron t-shirts, but the point is, God gave me the discipline to finish what I’d started.)
So often I ignore the gifts God wants to lavishly share with me, like power, love and self-discipline. I try to power through in my own strength, which simply isn’t enough for the best things in my life. And yes, even ironing qualifies as a "best" choice when my family needs work shirts.
Beyond the daily tasks of life, I long for the discipline to achieve long-time goals and dreams. I want to leave behind the disappointment in myself when I fail to achieve them yet again.
Having a natural bent away from self-discipline is an opportunity to discover God’s power, as I need to return to God often and ask for His help. Once a week just won’t cut it. It needs to be hourly and sometimes by the minute. Even though God wants to give me the gift of self-discipline, I still have a strong free will, which can reject it.
What more might God want to do in me and through me with this gift of help? I’m pretty sure God’s got a list for me, and with His help, I’ll be ready. It might even include saying no to lasagna.
Heavenly Father, thank You for freely giving me Your Spirit to help me with the hard things in life. My heart longs to be more self-disciplined, but my flesh is weak. Help me remember when faced with a choice, I don’t have to give in to excuses. I can call on You for help. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." (NIV)
Proverbs 25:28, "Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control." (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What is one thing you wish you had the self-discipline to do this week?
Why would Paul, the author of 2 Timothy, combine "power, love and self-discipline" together in our key verse? Do you see any connection to these three gifts from God?