Is it not impossible for any polished accomplishment or exercise to be attained without discipline? Or can discipline be acquired without bitterness? Therefore, since these things are so, let us make ready our mind, not for joy, not for security, as the Sage says, but for temptations and trials, for griefs and toils.
- Columbanus, Sermon IV, Irish, 7th century
But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
- 1 Timothy 6.11, 12
In the Christian life, “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness” constitute the vision that stirs and moves us, the “end game” that sets our worldview apart from every other way of life. Because those great and noble virtues are all Jesus and His Kingdom and glory, to which we have been called by God (1 Thess. 2.12).
At the same time, pursue summarizes what Columbanus explained as the disciplined life. We cannot gain Christ and His Kingdom without discipline, and discipline cannot “be acquired without bitterness”.
But bitterness and the sufferings required for life in the Kingdom (Acts 14.22) do not feature large in the life of discipleship as most Christians today pursue it.
Many Christians lead, by and large, undisciplined lives. We want to take our Christianity in stride, along with all the other “good things” of life, and we don’t want to have to exert ourselves too much to be followers of the Man of Sorrows.
But then, that’s only partly true. Because everyone leads a disciplined life. The questions that matter are: Which disciplines? To what end? When our vision is the vision of Christ and His Kingdom, and this is what we contemplate and desire above all else, our disciplines will be those He prescribes for helping to get us there.
But that hardly seems to be the case with Christians today.
Our vision is paltry; our disciplines are scant; and the outcomes of love for God and neighbor that ought to be our stock and trade are largely hit-and-miss.
We cannot “lay hold” on the fullness of life eternal apart from a disciplined life of seeking the Lord and His Kingdom.
Growing in the faith of Jesus is a struggle, a “good fight” to which all are called who take His Name upon them. The Lord condemned those church members who “hate discipline” (Ps. 50.17 ESV), yet we think we can avoid or minimize discipline and still find favor in His eyes?
I know this doesn’t apply to everyone, but if the shoe fits, be bold to wear it.
God has called us to search the Scriptures daily, pray without ceasing, fast and seek His face in solitude, and press on to realize the prize of the upward high calling which is ours in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3.14).
He has commanded us to resist temptation and pursue holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7.1).
He has outlined the disciplines that can shape our relationships, work, and lives together in the church for bringing glory to God and joy to our world.
But following those disciplines is a struggle. Do not neglect this struggle, nor seek to make it an easy road. It is not.
This is a good fight, and a real one, and it bears abundant fruit for the Kingdom for all those who pursue it as though their lives depended on it.
Whom the Lord loves, He disciplines; those who love the Lord discipline themselves to seek Him, know Him, and serve Him with all their heart, mind, conscience, and strength.
There are no bench-sitters and no spectators in the Kingdom.
1. How conscious are you of the disciplines that shape and direct your life?
2. Fighting the good fight is a question of how we use our time. Are you making the most of the time God gives you for glorifying Him? How might you improve that time?
Psalm 2.9-12 (Agincourt: O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High)
To Christ the Lord be given all who humbly embrace Him and on Him call.
Be wise, be warned: His judgment comes to break the prideful, sinful ones.
Rejoice with fear in Jesus’ grace, and worship before His exalted face!
Beware His anger and judgment grim: How blest are all who rest in Him!
Lord, help me to take up the challenge of a disciplined life so that I…
The Disciplined Life
Please prayerfully consider making a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe. Only God can move you to do this, and we believe He intends to support this ministry from within the ranks of those who are served by it. If this includes you, please seek the Lord in this matter. You can click here to donate online with your credit card or through PayPal, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
T. M. Moore, Principal
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.