1 Corinthians 9:27 (NLT) I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.
I love that the apostle Paul uses this analogy for self-discipline! Athletes train hard and must deny lesser desires in order to focus on training and preparing their bodies to endure the struggle of competition. As believers, we must follow this example and discipline ourselves, denying lesser desires so we might walk in the fullness of God’s plans.
Self-discipline doesn’t begin until you no longer desire to do that which you have committed to do.
For example, you’ve likely had mornings where you wake up and are excited to spend time with Jesus, longing to pray and get in His word so you do. That’s not self discipline, that’s just doing what you desire. Self discipline begins those days when you feel completely dead and the thought of getting out of bed brings dread to your very soul, but you get up and pray anyway. That’s self discipline.
I started trying to be healthy last September. I started going to the park and walking / running for half an hour about 4 days a week. I built it into my routine. Starting this year I got a gym membership and added some weight training to my workout regiment.
Not too long ago I hit my first slump. I didn’t want to go. I started making excuses. Well, I’m tired, I didn’t sleep great last night. I was still going, but missing days here and there. Then came the day when I didn’t really have an excuse, I just didn’t want to go. I asked myself what would make me want to go? I decided actually running, so I went to the park and ran hard for 15 minutes and then went to the gym and pushed myself. It reminded me why I go in the first place. To be healthy. Something about pushing myself harder reignited my motivation.
Sometimes we struggle with consistency in our devotional times. Perhaps we are just going through the motions, or frustrated because we’re not seeing the growth we desire. Sometimes we need to reset and refocus. Ask ourselves why we have lost motivation? Many times we need to remember our motivation in the first place. Remember the love we have for Jesus. Remember that we are not living for today, but for eternity! Remember that it isn’t just our eternity that matters, but every person we meet.
This is when self discipline is most important. It’s easy to do when you want to do it, but it’s essential to do it when you don’t want to do it.
Hebrews 12:11 (NLT) No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
This scripture isn’t referring to self discipline, but the discipline of the Lord. I believe the principle still applies! Prioritizing our time with Jesus and living a life of self-discipline means denying other desires we have. It can be painful, but on the other side, it is always worth the price we paid.
- Are you consistent in your prayer and devotional life?
- Is there anything that is draining your motivation to spend time with Jesus?
- What could help you increase your motivation to study His Word?
- Pick a time to intentionally spend time with God this week, regardless of emotions, or competing desires. Prioritize your relationship with Jesus.
- Make a list of competing desires and ask the Lord to help increase your desire to know Him.
- Find a friend or mentor who can meet with you once a week and discuss what you’ve been studying in God’s Word.