This week, after a long conversation with my best friend about our mutual unfitness, I decided to join the gym. Now if you have ever tried to join a gym, you know they try to upsell you on a whole bunch of extra stuff. In my case they insisted that I do a health assessment with a personal trainer. I did said assessment and turns out that I am overweight (no surprise) and also at risk for lifestyle related diseases (big surprise). Naturally I immediately set out on a mission to lose that extra weight and get my health right (more water, more exercise, more sleep). The problem with all of that however is that it requires a lot of self-discipline on my part – something I have always struggled with.
Google defines self-discipline as the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it. I love that definition because it perfectly describes what happens when I receive a gift of chocolate or see my cousin’s cheese tortellini on the Christmas dinner table – I know that I should leave it alone but abandon the idea because of the temptation. But it’s not just food. It’s staying up that extra two hours to finish the book I’m halfway through reading. It’s talking myself into buying those shoes even though I know I don’t really need them. It’s adding my two cents to the watercooler complaint session about my coworker. It’s all the opportunities where I know what the right thing to do is, but can’t resist the temptation of doing otherwise.
For a long time I thought of these things as trivial. But the Bible has a lot to say about self-disciple. Proverbs 25:28 says “A person without self-control is like a house with its doors and windows knocked out.” (The Message). Clearly, it is not a trivial thing to God. As I have learned however, developing self-discipline is a hard process. There is no fast track to it. It is often uncomfortable, and it usually involves going against what I might feel like doing. Truthfully, most days it feels impossible. But God promises in 2 Timothy 1:7 that through His Spirit we can have self-discipline.“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”
We can resist the temptation and choose what we know is right. With Christ’s help we can become the masters of our life’s domain. Or better yet, good stewards of the lives that God has loaned us. With Christ we can conquer anything.