Do you know anyone who is very self-disciplined? Can you picture them right now doing what you consider to be the practice of self-discipline? Think for a minute what that looks like to you.
I have somebody in mind. He is someone that I looked up to. That was written in the past tense because he is in heaven now. I keep trying to be more like him because he was a lot like what I thought Jesus must be like. He is my father. His birthday was this month so I have been thinking a lot about him. I have been trying to figure out how he conquered his challenges. Everyone has challenges. Having challenges does not make you weak. How you handle them will determine that for you. I see him as very strong both physically and spiritually. I know he was not strong like Charles Atlas. But to me, he was strong. I know he had struggles, but he was spiritually strong. He depended on the Lord. He often went to the Lord with what he felt, thought and desired concerning himself, mom, and his children. His heart ached for people to come to know Christ in a deep and real way. He was a hard worker all of his life. He spent hours in the Word every day. He was very self-disciplined.
So what is self-discipline and how do you “get” it? Well, first, you need to make a choice to be self-disciplined. Then, you need to spend time with Jesus. Hmmm, that seems to be a recurring theme. Yes, it is. Spending time with the Lord is key because true self-discipline is achieved through growth in the Lord. It is one of the fruits of the Spirit. You will not produce that fruit in your life with out applying a little bit of your own choice to discipline yourself, by meeting with God daily. Even when the Holy Spirit produces that fruit in you, you still have to choose to apply it in your life. You will always have a choice as to how you behave. Will you behave in a disciplined way or just let it all hang out?
My mother taught me early that I am capable of choosing my attitude no matter what the circumstance is. I really appreciate that lesson. Without the understanding that I get to choose (and better begin to do so), I would not know that I do not have to helplessly act on my emotions. All actions are choice. In fact, some emotions are choice as well, such as anger, hate, and others. But no matter what we think or feel, God does expect us to develop a sense of what is appropriate behavior and attitude and what is not. He wants us to discipline our own hearts and minds. That is so very hard to do if we have emotional triggers to deal with. But even then we can choose to do so.
So if we are capable of self-discipline ourselves, why do we need the Holy Spirit to produce that as a fruit in us? What does it mean when we call self-discipline a fruit?
The reason we need the Holy Spirit’s help is because he is the only one who can produce good fruit in our lives as a non-works maintenance free behavior. Why is it called a fruit? Well, fruit is produced when the branch abides in (is connected to) the vine. The vine is the source of life to the branch bringing the sap of truth and life, enabling the growth of fruit. If we abide (connect to) and remain in communion with Christ, we begin to learn who we are in Christ and we receive the truth that sets us free from the baggage (ungodly belief systems) that keeps us from producing the fruit of self-discipline. The more truth we know in our heart of hearts, the more self-disciplined we develop.
May God bless you as you seek Him. May He produce the fruit of self-discipline in you.