Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Delightful Discipline

     What do a Grammy winning actor, a Fortune 500 CEO, a Super Bowl winning quarterback, a Doctor of Philosophy, a President, a school teacher, and a beggar all have in common? Nothing. They all finish with nothing. Nothing of eternal value. At least nothing related to any of their accomplishments. Excepting the beggar, all these people have devoted countless hours of their lives to successfully reach their accomplishments. Yet, none of these accomplishments will matter in the least, one second after they breath their last breath. As C.T. Studd wrote in his famous poem, “Only one life, twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” It is a sad thing to dedicate your life to a cause that, in and of itself, has no eternal value and leave no room in your life for growth in godliness.
     I have always admired and enjoyed great guitarists. The best musicians seem to play their instruments as if they are an extension of themselves. It comes so easy. They have such freedom when they play. However, the freedom and delight of playing an instrument with exceptional skill comes only after thousands of hours of disciplined practice. A guy like me could learn to play adequately well in about 100 hours of practice. If I wanted to play like Rodrigo Y Gabriela it would take about 10,000 hours. Seriously. Imagine dedicating 10,000 hours to learning to play an instrument. A worthy endeavor if you want to play professionally. However, it is disheartening to realize how little professing Christians are willing to dedicate to growing in godliness. It always surprises me to learn how saints save their greatest discipline and commitment for the things in their life that have no eternal value.
     I’ve come to realize that I will never be a great guitarist. I don’t have the desire or discipline it takes. Similarly, many Christians will never be deeply godly. They don’t have the desire or discipline it takes. Here’s a good spot to throw in your favorite disclaimer to resist the teaching of human responsibility in spiritual growth. We, like the Pharisees, are good at creating biblical arguments for our disobedience and rebellion. You know, like, “it’s all by grace” or “we’re under grace, not the law.” Etc. However, the Bible does teach us to “grow” in grace[1] and to “train” ourselves in godliness[2]. The fact of the matter is that unless you engage in the spiritual disciplines of the Christian life, you will not be godly. That is why I’m recommending this new book to you by David Mathis. He has written an excellent encouragement about the joy that comes from rightly understanding the place of discipline in a godly life. I assure you that reading it and applying it will have much more eternal value than most of what you were planning on spending your time on this week. Read to the glory of God!

[1] 2 Peter 3:18
[2] 1 Timothy 4:7