A Woman of Discipline
By Dot Bowen
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14 (NIV)
Am I the only person who gets irritated with all the weight loss commercials that start every January? If everyone loses weight at the beginning of the year, why do we need to talk about it again the next year? How many years will it take before we can be consistently disciplined throughout the entire year? Discipline is a difficult and frustrating issue! Discipline is defined as the loving and corrective training that leads to maturity and responsibility on the part of those who experience it. Corrective? I understand corrective. But I’m not sure I’d use the word loving to describe discipline. The biblical concept of discipline is defined as that which combines the nuances of training, instruction, and firm guidance with those of reproof, correction, and punishment. It’s clear by definition that discipline has never been something most have desired or enjoyed. Most of us would agree we desire to live Godly lives but would prefer not to be disciplined in the process. I believe a life that reflects the presence of God is definitely a product of discipline. I’ve never seen a commercial highlighting a program for spiritual discipline, but I’ve seen many promoting programs for physical discipline. The problem with focusing only on physical discipline is its only value is in this life. Once we leave this world, whatever physical discipline we have mastered will be of no value. At times it can feel as though physical discipline is impossible to conquer, and certainly achieving spiritual discipline can appear to be out of the question. However, I believe with dedicated training through the study of Scripture, prayer, and the fruit of the Spirit (self-control), we can discipline ourselves to experience a life that is pleasing to God.
God gave us several examples in Scripture of people who were not perfect but exercised discipline and obedience when given a choice to obey God or give in to their fleshly desires. I believe there are times when discipline and obedience are interchangeable, but there are many times when they go hand to hand. Abraham certainly exercised self-control and obedience when he was asked to put Isaac on the altar as a sacrifice. Joseph used extreme self-control through obedience when he resisted the invitation to sleep with Potiphar’s wife. And what about Uriah who gave up a night to sleep with his wife because his soldiers were on the front lines fighting for their lives? Daniel obeyed God by using discipline when he gave up his right to eat food from the king’s palace because he didn’t want to defile his body. Discipline and obedience combined present a wholehearted yes to the call of God. Have you ever wondered if Abraham would still have been a blessing to the nations if he had not obeyed God? Had Joseph slept with Potiphar’s wife would God still have shown him favor and saved his family from starvation? If Daniel had gone along with the crowd and defiled his body, would God still have protected him in the lion’s den? Of course, we will never know because each of these considered obedience more important than their selfish desires. I find myself cringing as I think about what they risked losing had they disobeyed.
I am the first to struggle with physical discipline—especially when sitting at Krispy Kreme looking at the “Hot Now” sign from outside the store. I can also struggle when I believe God is asking me to give Him my own personal desires that are not the same as what He desires for me. I have experienced God’s discipline when I was unwilling to show self-discipline and obey Him. Obedience can produce discipline that will transform our speech, our thought life, our behavior, and strengthens us when we are tempted to sin.
To live as a woman of discipline is to desire obedience over self-indulgence. If you choose to seek spiritual discipline you will have to sacrifice your time, renew your mind, give your heart’s desires to God, and say yes to God’s purpose for your life. And then at the end of your life, you will enter into the presence of God and offer Him everything you sacrificed out of obedience and godly discipline. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” The moment we receive the crown of life, whatever we were asked to sacrifice will no longer be important. A disciplined woman is one who knows what she wants and is willing to pay the price to achieve it. A woman focused on Godly discipline is a woman who knows what God wants and is willing to obey without counting the cost. Obedience can be costly, but nothing compares to the cost of disobedience. Trust me, you don’t want to pay that price!
Further Reading Genesis 22:9-14; Genesis 39:8-12; 2 Samuel 11:11-13; Daniel 1:8,11-13; Philippians 3:12-14; 1 Corinthians 8:13