Are you D-I-S-C-I-P-L-I-N-E-D?

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Discipline is an art that requires knowledge, skill, sensitivity and self-confidence. In other words, discipline is the different behaviors in accordance with rules of conduct and order that is maintained by training and control. There will come a time in each of our lives where discipline will be used to teach us a lesson. Discipline from a Biblical perspective is what God desires. It says in Hebrews that “God chastises those He loves” {12:6}. In other words, He disciplines and if possible rebukes those He loves lest they fall in the wrong hands. When studying the Bible, there are different components that teach us about discipline; I am going to use all these fruits to relate to the term discipline in reference to (Galatians 5: 22 – 23):

So we should know that there are 9 fruits in total and they consist of:

  • LOVE – We are aware that LOVE is the greatest commandment of all. From a personal perspective, when I ponder upon the love of God, it is unconditional; no matter what I have done in the past or what I do now, God will never hold it against me. When I relate discipline to love, I can think of times where I found it quite hard to love others, particularly those I did not get along with; however I have come to realise that if God can love me despise all my flaws, how can I not love others? There is a level of discipline that God Himself will deal with us to the extent of showing us our vulnerabilities where it seems hard to love. There are some out there that may not always get along with their family. There is a saying that goes ‘you can choose your friends, but you cannot choose your family”. Our family is what brings unity, if we know how to work with one another. God also teaches us from a Biblical perspective in reference to the way we treat strangers (Hebrews 13:2). What about the people in our church who we see every week but have never spoken to? They too are ‘strangers’ to us. It is important that we talk to God honestly about our fears and discomforts in loving others so that He can discipline us and help us remove whatever barriers we have. Love should be something that is worked on every second of our lives, we should not take it for granted because our world today is so corrupt that all they want to see is genuine love. Yes love can have limits because when you love too much it can leave you feeling used, however the LOVE OF GOD is unconditional that you can’t get enough of it. It is not always easy to love especially when people do take your kindness for granted, but look beyond that and love them anyway. If God can love you despite your flaws and mistakes, I am pretty sure you can do the same too.
  • JOY – Joy is something that starts within ones heart; it is not dependent on circumstances or materialistic resources. A lot of us today depend on our jobs, our financial status, our friends, our cars and possessions to grant us joy, but real joy starts from within. It is crucial to discipline yourself in how you feel; your emotions, what makes you angry, what makes you happy etc. Joy is knowing that the Lord God is on your side as well as being happy with where you are right now although you are not where you want to be. It is so important to discipline your mind to be joyful at ALL TIMES. Remember the devil our enemy prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom it may devour (1 Peter 5:8). When you are joyful in all situations, the enemy has NO POWER to come into your heart and distract you because that is his plan from day one. If someone was to ask you how to define joy, what would you say? Would you say it is dependent on your mood? Well, if you say that the answer is no. Happiness is dependent on how you are feeling at that very moment, but joy is an inner feeling of delight that cannot be compared to possessions or status of life. We have all got the love of Jesus in our hearts, that should be enough joy in our day to day lives and should be utilized to the best of our ability. We should not wait for our circumstances to change before we enjoy life, we must engage in joy now.

Self control

  • PEACE – John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”. Peace is also another expression that we possess when used effectively. Peace should only come from the most High God, and not from external resources. When I am overwhelmed with so many problems, I discipline my mind and ask God for His Peace. His Peace surpasses all understanding Philippians 4:7. We all can experience the Peace of God if we put our minds to it and control the way we deal with our issues. Sometimes it does not even require you telling people your problems but just seeking the Father. There may have been a time in your life where you received a letter of rejection regarding a job or a course or your health condition, but regardless of what the world says, we can still have it in the back of our minds to be at Peace knowing that there is someone greater and MIGHTIER than our problems who can fight our battles and grant us His Peace. Psalm 23:2 says that “God makes us lie down in green pastures and leads us beside the STILL waters”. Having Peace requires being still for a moment. You will not always get your way if you keep solving problems with your strength. Being still and seeing the Salvation of God will equip you to know of His Peace and actually experience it.
  • PATIENCE – I remember the Lord telling me to be patient about a situation that was having such a heavy impact on my mental state. Just thinking about the issue brings tears because the wait was too long for me. Having had the patience to wait on Him, I honestly cannot look back but look forward and thank GOD that He did not bless me at the time I wanted it to arrive because He knew the right timing for me. Ladies, I cannot emphasize enough on the power of being patient; there is so much satisfaction in waiting. A song that keeps resounding in my head reads “Wait on the Lord, He knows what you need, He will give it to you just in time, wait on the Lord; they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, WAIT ON THE LORD!” The ability to discipline yourself in any situation that you are surrounded in is what David cultivated. This is what he said in Psalm 37: 7-9 “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land”. This is what it means to have patience; being STILL IN HIS PRESENCE is one of the ways we experience His Patience in our lives. Even when we do wrong, God is YET PATIENT with us and deals with us in His manner of love. Despite the evil ones around us, we can be sure that as we discipline ourselves to be patient for God to intervene, He will come when we least expect it.

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  • KINDNESS – I used to keep telling myself that in as much as God has given me a bubbly heart, is it healthy to keep people who drain you in your life? I really question this because God’s greatest commandment was to love. Referring back to the Spirit of love (fruit), I spoke on the importance of family and how we cannot choose them. Instead, we have the power to be kind, not just to our family but also to those surrounded by us, and that means our work colleagues, our church friends, our neighbors and in particular strangers. Hebrews says that we should not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. {13:2}. Being able to show love to strangers and be kind to them is one of the ways in which we can get our minds off ourselves and be a blessing unto others. It is not just about us, but those that God has placed around us also. When we feel tempted to give up on someone, we must have this fruit at all times and use it to Glorify God. When I think about the times where I have not been Faithful to God, He has shown me all manner of kindness especially the ones I did not deserve. His Grace for example is sufficient for us; we do not deserve it, but it is because of His nature that He grants us this kindness that cannot be bought because it is expensive. So the next time you are tempted to give up on someone, remind yourself the amount of times where God took you back into His arms and was kind to you. Not only that, we can also be disciplined in the way we treat others through the help of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will prompt and guide us into the kindness that we must show others, but still being aware of the devices from the enemy, we can choose to still love those who bring so much pain and pray that God will change their hearts, as He also changes ours.
  • GOODNESS – There is so much that we can do for someone, but it takes the WILLINGNESS OF GOD to continually be good to others. It says in His Word for the Lord is good and His mercies endures forever! He is a good God and there is nothing we can do that can measure His level of goodness towards us. One of the scriptures that really captured my heart was Psalm where David said “I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” {27:13}. David knew that God’s goodness was all over Him and for that reason He was able to show goodness towards His enemies, in particular King Saul to destroy him. David was disciplined enough to know that as God was so good to him when he committed murder and adultery, he had to apply it towards King Saul because God is always forgiving. God would not want His children to become bitter because of how people treat us, instead He wants to discipline us and follow His path to treat people well. Being good is not just only when your friend is celebrating their birthday and you decide to buy a gift; you can also be good in the church through serving the children or joining the choir or cleaning the church every weekend. These are different ways to be good as well as being disciplined because it will teach you how to be responsible for your future. Being able to manage the way you do good to people is a big responsibility that not a lot of people are willing to take on because unfortunately, some are still living with the “me me me” mentality. Until they have truly experienced Gods goodness in their lives, they will feel inadequate to help others, and one of the reasons that goodness is not being utilized effectively is because we can be self-centred at times. But this can be managed through discipline and sacrifice; being able to take time off work or volunteer for a weekend to help your local community group or treat your neighbor to lunch are ways of expressing goodness.
  • FAITHFULNESS – Have you experienced a situation where your friend said yes to something you asked for, and then later on received a no? God stated in His Word that His promises are yes and AMEN! God’s plan for us is perfect and complete and because He is so Faithful, He will enable it to come to pass. When I speak about God’s Faithfulness, I am referring to His truth, His character, His loyalty. God is not someone who would lie Numbers 23:19; His Word is forever fulfilled. Because of who He is, we are created to give Him the Glory. When everyone else have failed you, God will show Himself strong and be Faithful to you. His truth alone will set you free from man’s fragile promises. The promises of man will fail, but the promises and FAITHFULNESS (TRUTH) of God will never fail. It is highly important to discipline ourselves in the way we depend on people, because we are all limited resources and can only do so much, but God in His MIGHTY POWER can do all things because He is perfect and full of truth. In Deuteronomy 28 we read about Gods Faithfulness evidently: “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock”. When you are Faithful to God, He will be Faithful to you and show Himself strong in your life.
  • GENTLENESS – Words! The first thing that came to mind is our words. Our words are seeds that germinate and can have a profound effect on the human mind. When we communicate with people, we must firstly check our motives (our hearts) before we open our mouths. Once something has been said, it cannot be taken back. This is why it says in Proverbs that “A perverse person stirs up conflict and a gossip separates close friends” {16:28}. This is happening so much in our world today because too many people are getting involved in situations that do not concern them. Our words must be gentle towards our loved ones, because no matter how tough you think you are, there is still a weak spot inside you that when a friend critiques you about your vulnerabilities, it can break you. So we must be sure that our words and speech is like God Himself. Even in His wrath, God won’t curse or say vile things to us; instead He waits patiently until we are ready to surrender all to Him. Titus 3:2 on the other hand says “To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people”. This is so applicable today because when we become angry, we are genuinely eager to speak negatively about someone, but in this instance, it is advising us to be gentle and show hospitality towards ALL people, not some, not few. This is the discipline that God grants us when we literally feel like giving up on people. God has to give us the Grace to be gentle towards others and be honorable, because what you do unto people is what you do unto God.
  • SELF-CONTROL – The last fruit! Ahh self-control, where do I start with you? There is so much DISCIPLINE in this area that not a lot of people are mature enough to understand (including me) at times. Self-control is the ability to take action for your emotions, desires and actions. It enables you to stop doing the things that you usually do or deem as ‘okay’ but you still crave for it. For example, when you have one malteser, you say only one but really you mean 10 lol! Yes I have been in that situation and is an activity that I have learnt to manage and take full authority over. From a Biblical perspective, self-control is what God desires us to have. It not only benefits you, but benefits those around you because people are watching. How does it benefit those around you? I will explain. In Proverbs 25:28 it says that “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls”. In other words, no one wants to be in an environment that they are not comfortable in. People would be afraid to trust you because of your vulnerabilities to manage issues. Lets say you received a letter to say that you were not qualified to take on a course, and you take it out on others around you, do you really think they would want to be around you any longer? No, because so much can happen in a minute. One little match can spark a fire that can take a long time to burn off. It is so important to know how to manage your emotions as it enables you to manage the way you relate to people. Discipline yourself to control your own mind and see how beautiful life would be for you. Why does God put so much emphasis on self-control? Because He knows how it can affect ones mind especially towards the things that satisfy us, but must still have authority over, so for example eating consumptions; this can be controlled but at times we get too addictive to food that it makes us lazy; some on the other hand use it as ‘comfort’ when we don’t always get our way. This should not be so, instead we should pick up our Bibles and study it, so that our Spirits are fed well. We must also learn to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily as this is a high requirement of Jesus. (Luke 9:23). Daily our ‘self’ produces desires that should be denied and controlled especially if they are not according to His will. On the contrary, self-control does not dictate being harsh toward yourself or living a limited lifestyle, self-control is a sign of inner strength and control of yourself, your actions, and your reactions.

The importance of discipline is that it will help to improve ones concentration and mental state in controlling what comes to the mind. Exercising and utilizing discipline in all areas of life will strengthen your relationship with your family and loved ones, but most importantly with God. He really wants to get into your heart, so allow Him to heal your broken pieces, heal your addictions, and help you overcome procrastination and stagnation. Self control is one of the important ingredients of success because it expresses itself in a variety of ways:

  • Perseverance!
  • The ability not to give up, despite failure and setbacks!
  • Self-discipline!
  • The ability to resist distractions/temptations!
  • Trying over and again until you accomplish what you set out to do!

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