I want to help us build our "character houses." Our family has long enjoyed a particular series which I highly commend to everyone with young children. However, to be enjoyed to its fullest, it needs to be read aloud. Ralph is a young boy in a family that moves from the East Coast to the Denver area. He moves from a city life to a rural life.
Today, we are going to focus on developing self-discipline. It's no secret that laziness carries a high price –it can mess up our personal relationships, our career and even our spiritual life.Today, we'll discover how to recognize and respond to it (not only in others, but also ourselves). Then we'll explore what it takes to develop the most powerful antidote to laziness: self-discipline.
Tom Landry: "My task is to renew the minds of our players so that I can get them to do what they do not want to do in order for them to achieve what they want to achieve."
Truth is, we all want the character; we just don't want the suffering.
The Consequences of Laziness and Misguided Efforts
What are some of the consequences of laziness and misguided efforts. I've picked out four of the most notable according to the Bible:
Laziness has material consequences.
"Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.
How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man" (Proverbs 6:6-11).
"Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth"(Proverbs 10:4).
Now, this is no formula for poverty... in other words, just because someone is poor does not mean that they are lazy. Many people have suffered economic difficulty because of circumstances beyond their control (e.g. medical, famine, depression, etc.). But, it does seem to be certain that a lazy person can guarantee their material poverty.
Laziness has spiritual consequences.
"Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone (I Thessalonians 5:14).
Rest is part of God's rhythm of life.
“Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest" (Exodus 34:21).
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Some of you know that this is the one commandment that I most regularly wrestle with.Tending toward being a workaholic is a socially acceptable disease.
Our energies can be misguided and wrongheaded.
"Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint" (Proverbs 23:4).
"What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26)
The Character Value of Self Discipline
1) Discipline recognizes God as our Father
"And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it" (Hebrews 12:5-11).
2) Discipline recognizes accountability.
"So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God" (Romans 14:12).
"Discipline" has become a dirty word for our culture. ...I know I am speaking heresy in many circles, but spontaneity is greatly overvalued. The "spontaneous" person who shrugs off the need for discipline is like the farmer who went out to gather eggs. As he walked across the farmyard toward the hen house, he noticed the pump was leaking. So he stopped to fix it. It needed a new washer, so he set off to the barn to get one. But on the way he saw that the hayloft needed straightening, so he went off to fetch the pitchfork. Hanging next to the pitchfork was a broom with a broken handle. "I must make a note to myself to buy a new broom handle the next time I go to town," he thought. By now it is clear the farmer is not going to get his eggs gathered, nor is he likely to accomplish anything else he sets out to do. He is utterly, gloriously spontaneous, but he is hardly free. He is, if anything, a prisoner to his unbridled spontaneity. The fact of the matter is that discipline is the only way to freedom; it is the necessary context for spontaneity (Evangelist John Guest in Only a Prayer Away. Christianity Today, Vol. 34, no. 7).
3) Discipline brings spiritual results.
"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful" (Colossians 4:2).
4) Discipline brings direction.
"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:12-14).
God has a purpose for each one of our lives. Here are some specific things for you to do this week in the area of self discipline.
Here are five self-discipline questions:
1) Do I know why I am here?
2) Am I living my life in alignment with God's purposes for me?
3) Are there areas of my life which need discipline to reign in excess?
4) Are there areas of my life which need discipline to develop strength?
5) To whom am I accountable for my life?
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