Discipline

“Act in a manner consistent with your values, not in a manner consistent with your feelings.” - Tommy Newberry 

Feelings are a tricky thing. They are a reactionary mental state and fluctuate based upon what we see, hear, or think. Feelings are not steady or reliable. Since feelings are untrustworthy, they can lead us to act in an ungodly way. Feelings are not going to lead us down the path of righteousness. We are not always going to feel like reading our Bible. We are not always going to feel like praying. We are not always going to feel like celebrating others. We are not always going to feel like fasting. If this is the case, what can we possibly rely on to act in a more Godly way?

Discipline. 

You either love this word or you hate it. Discipline either rules your life or crushes it. Discipline has always been an intimidating word for me. I’ve always felt there is a pressure that comes with it. The pressure to live in such a perfect, structured manner with no room for mistakes. For the longest time discipline was crushing my life. I believed I had to wake up at a certain time, read my Bible, pray for X number of minutes and this would be my routine every day. If I didn’t stick to this routine I would be disappointed and upset with myself. The problem was that I was putting an expectation on myself that God never did. God never said I had to read my Bible at exactly 8 o’clock every day. I did. 

I was also putting God in a box. I thought that if I didn’t have my quiet time one morning then I had just missed out on God for the day. God is not confined to my quiet time. He is not even confined to a church service. God is everywhere and can work through anything. 

There is beauty and importance in practicing the disciplines in our daily lives. They allow us to connect with God in deeper, more intimate ways. It’s important to remember though that God expects effort, not perfection. We are never going to achieve perfection through practicing the disciplines, but only through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. 

“Jesus expects his followers to give their fullest effort to obey his commandments, yet He knows they will fall short. He gives them his spirit to empower them whenever they ask.” (The Jesus Bible)

We can partner with God through the disciplines. We wake up each day with a choice to practice gratitude. Or the choice to read our Bible. We go to bed at night with a choice to pray. We have a choice to slow down in the midst of a hustle-minded culture. We are not always going to feel like practicing these disciplines, but imagine going through life only doing the things you felt like doing. Imagine missing out on the peace of God because you didn’t feel like praying in a moment of anxiety. Imagine missing out on what the Lord has to say because you didn't feel like opening up His word.

I believe the more we make the choice to act according to the disciplines, the more we will want to follow through with them. “In fact this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). His commands are not restricting, but instead bring freedom. This freedom will stoke the embers of desire to please your Heavenly Father and do what is right in His eyes. Yet, if we do choose our feelings over our faith there is grace. There is always grace (just remember Romans 6:1-2). 

I pray you invite God into the practice of the disciplines and that He will stir up a fresh desire in your heart to pursue Him and His ways.

Author | Riley Orr

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