Spiritual Formation for You

Discipline and Discovery

Discipline and Discovery

For many Christians, whether we articulate it or not, our desire in the New Year is to become more like Jesus. Do we really know what that means? There is this generic idea that we need to be more kind and patient. That is certainly so, but let’s get specific and not become overwhelmed, but ask ourselves, “Is there one or two areas where I can come up higher as I travel through 2015?”

First, let’s admit that like any other life change there is an element of discipline. Jesus was the most wisely discipline person in history. Read the following excerpt from Albert Edward Day’s book Discipline and Discovery and ask the Lord to shed light on where you can come up higher.

  • Obedience: “Not my will be done” – “my meat and drink is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” As Paul Tillich said, Jesus lived in unbroken unity with God and yet sought nothing for himself by that unity.
  • Simplicity: He lived simply – “foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head”; there was no effort to make an impression – he refused the spectacular, he spoke the language of the people; there was no pose of any kind; he kept silent when he did not know the answers – “of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son”;
  • Humility: “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God”; “take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart.”
  • Frugality: “How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God”; “for our sakes he became poor that we through his poverty might be rich”; “man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”; “those who wear soft raiment are in kings’ houses.” Frugal in food, he fasted long days in the wilderness. Frugal in sleep, he spent whole nights in prayer alone with God. Frugal in personal relationships, he loved people but could get along without them if his truth offended them; “will you also go away?”
  • Generosity: He gave everything to God, everything! His days and nights, his dreams and deeds, his labors and his life itself, were God’s. He gave himself without stint to people, sharing with them his truth, ministering to their souls, healing their sickness, listening to their questions, “for many were coming and going and there was no leisure even to eat:; “he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.”
  • Truthfulness: Even his enemies had to say, “we know that you are true. . .you do not regard the position of men but teach the way of God.” Deceit, evasion, double-talk, ambiguity, exaggeration, flattery, guile never appeared in his life even when, by common strategy, they promised advantage to his selfless cause.
  • Purity: Not even a look in the direction of evil, no mixed motives, no service adulterated by sly self-interest, nothing that did not fit the concept of God-likeness: He not only said “Blessed are the pure in heart,” he was that!
  • Charity: Paul’s deathless portrayal of charity had Jesus as its model. Every quality of life that good usage names charity was Christ’s in abundance – gentleness, graciousness, quick forgiveness, bountifulness, courtesy, self-sacrifice, universal good will, channeling God’s love toward all people – of all this Jesus was the perfect incarnation.

While these superlative qualities of life are found in Christ, they are not the result of  sheer native endowment.  They were his because God was in him, true! But God was in him because he did what the rest of us must do – by dedication and discipline, keep one’s life open to God.