“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11, ESV)
Discipline is often viewed as a dirty word. It is seen as a bad thing. But in Hebrews 11, it says, that while discipline can be painful, it produces the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
At its heart, discipline means to instruct. It’s related to the word disciple. A disciple is one who is instructed by a teacher. And we are all called to be disciples of Jesus. Discipline is not all bad. In fact, it is quite good.
Sometimes discipline is enforced through a negative consequence to bad behavior. At other times, discipline is to set aside what I want to do at a given moment for something better at a later time. This latter type of discipline brings about freedom.
Pay Now and Play Later
John Maxwell says, “I can play now and pay later, or I can pay now and play later.” The point is that there are consequences to our actions. We can do whatever we want at a given moment. We can live disciplined, or we can live undisciplined. But we will reap what we sow.
I spent last week in Haiti. We stayed at the Mission of Hope, Haiti. Mission of Hope is located in a beautiful area of Haiti. It is situated in the foothills to the mountains, overlooking the Caribbean Sea.
One day, I got up at 5 am in the morning to go for a 3-mile run. My discipline is to run every other day, regardless of the weather. But on this day, the weather was gorgeous. The view was amazing with the sun rising over the mountains. It was all worth it to up at 5 am. The scenery made me almost forget about how hard it was to run up the side of mountain. I didn’t need any motivation for this run. It was something to which I looked forward.
Then I came home to New Jersey. We were welcomed to four inches of snow after experiencing 80 and 90-degree temperatures in Haiti. But I was going to stick with my running discipline. The view from the treadmill was not nearly as inspiring as the sunrise coming over the mountains of Haiti. I certainly did not have the motivation as I did before. But I still did my run. I stuck with the discipline.
What enabled me to pursue my discipline was to “know my why.” I was not going to enjoy the run on the treadmill but knew I would enjoy the result of the run. It was not about what I wanted at the moment. At that moment I did not want to get on the treadmill. My motivation was about what I want tomorrow and into the future. It was the sense of accomplishment. It was that my fitness gives me the ability to keep up with my young children. It is that I want to be around for them for a long time and enjoy my grandchildren. It is knowing my “why” that gives me the motivation to stick with my discipline and live as healthy as I can, even if that means getting on the treadmill when I don’t want to.
Discipline Brings Freedom
Discipline is ultimately about freedom. I discipline myself to practice spiritual disciplines to allow me to experience a deeper and more intimate relationship with God. I discipline myself to live on less than I earn to allow me to experience freedom from debt and worry about money. I discipline myself to work in spite of the many distractions to accomplish more and enjoy my free time without the nagging thoughts about unfinished work.
For many, discipline is only about restricting my choices. But for those who are trained by disciplined, it opens a world of possibilities.
- Where do you lack discipline?
- How can you develop greater discipline in your life?
- What does discipline make possible in your life?