Self-Discipline – Vital In An Hour Of Self-Indulgence
By H. R. Crowles
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Tim. 1:7).
The kind of self-discipline which allowed John Wesley to ride horseback five thousand miles a year, preach four or five sermons a day, write a journal, edit a monthly magazine and translate numerous works from Greek, Latin and Hebrew is probably irretrievable. Nor am I sure that Wesley’s breathless pace is to be emulated.
But self-discipline is something that most of us could use more of. Put yourself to the test:
Do I go to bed on time at night so that I am alert the next day?
Do I get up on time so that I can face all the demands of the day that are before me?
Does the bulge around my waist indicate that I am letting my appetite for food out-distance my need for it, or that I am getting too little healthy exercise?
Are my devotional times an integral part of my daily pattern of living? Do I carefully guard them?
The spirit of self-discipline includes all of that, and I am not really living in obedience to God unless I conform.
But the inspired apostle had other related advice for Timothy, and it should apply to us, too. We are to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 2:1). That is the point of spiritual exercise – giving attendance to reading and prayer. We are to endure hardship like good soldiers (2:3). At least in those days, military duty was a rugged life with few of the amenities we take for granted. We are not to be involved in “civilian” affairs (2:4). Houses and property, possessions and earthly concerns should require a minimum of our time. We are to follow the rules of the game (2:5). The runner must “strive lawfully.”
We are to work hard, as the farmer does (2:6). Farming even today is a more time-consuming occupation than most industrial work. Few are the farmers who do not work hard. If we endure, we shall reign with Christ (2:12). Co-regency is the reward of those with endurance stamina. We are to be unashamed workmen (2:15). God’s approval is upon those who rightly divide His Word of truth. That ability demands diligent study.
We are to avoid godless chatter (2:16). Have I ever stopped to figure up how many hours of my day are frittered away in small talk over the telephone, over the counter, over the fence? Fleeing the evil desire of youth, we are to pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace (2:22). That assignment is full-time work for most of us. We are to avoid foolish and stupid arguments (2:23). Arguing serves no good purpose; it seldom convinces. I should avoid it.
The apostle, writing under divine inspiration, goes on to say that undisciplined living will be a sign of the last days (3:3). We need not look too far to be convinced that that time has arrived. A quick scan of the ads in the local paper or in any of the national magazines is clear evidence that we are motivated by pleasure, the love of luxury, the desire for easy living.
Paul names the Scriptures as the great standard which Christians are to follow (3:16). The Scriptures are useful, he says, for teaching, rebuking, correcting and for training in righteousness.
Then as an appropriate climax, Paul adds his personal testimony: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (4:7). He had no doubt of the future. “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not to me only, but also to all who have longed for His appearing” (4:8).
– From American Holiness Journal.