April 13, 2010
Discipline My Body
"I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified." I Corinthians 9:27 (NLT)
As I shared with a woman I met about our family's journey out of $95,000 worth of debt, she posed a question that stumped me. "That's great that you guys did that," she said. "But do you really think that people out there are willing to do the hard work it will take to get out of debt?"
I confessed to her that I couldn't answer for other people. I could only share what we had experienced—what we knew worked. She responded that she thought people were looking for simpler, easier solutions than the arduous four-and-a-half year process we went through. I knew she was probably right.
Days later as I was struggling through the first mile of my run, I thought about her question and compared it to my lack of motivation to lace up my running shoes that day. I didn't feel like running. I didn't want to stop what I was doing at home and take time to go running. I didn't want to do the hard work. The phrase "I discipline my body" went through my mind. As my legs pumped and my muscles strained and my heart cried out for relief, I certainly understood what Paul meant when he wrote that verse.
As I ran, my mind cycled through the many other things in life that are worth doing, yet require us to "discipline our bodies" into submission to accomplish them. In some instances we must physically discipline our bodies. Taking care of ourselves, exercising, and making healthy eating choices requires resolve, sacrifice, and some hard work.
In other instances we must emotionally discipline our bodies. Choosing to honor our husbands, or our parents, with our words and attitudes requires a continual humbling process that our flesh rails against.
Still other times we must spiritually discipline our bodies. I am learning it's not enough just to say I want a close relationship with God. I have to "discipline my body" to pursue Him. This includes getting up early when my body wants to sleep longer so I can start my day by having a quiet time. And I can't say I want to live by His Word if I am not willing to spend time studying it, disciplining my body by foregoing my desire to veg out in front of the TV in favor of reading the Bible.
I am learning that most things in life that are worth doing aren't going to be easy. Yet my flesh—my lazy, insolent, ugly flesh—continually hangs onto the thought that it should be easy. Sometimes my flesh wins out, I won't lie. But for the most part I am learning that when I make the effort to "discipline my body" I am always glad later that I did.
Maybe there's something that God is urging you to do that's going to require disciplining your body. Maybe you have resisted it because you don't want to go through that. From someone who understands that battle, might I urge you to take the time, and submit your body, heart and mind to the process? On the other side of your effort is a transformed life waiting to happen.
Dear Lord, I know that doing the right thing is not usually the easy thing. Help me to follow Your ways and not my own. Help me to commit to the changes I know I need to make in my life. And let me feel You guiding and encouraging me every step of the way. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
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Write down in your journal one thing that you feel God has laid on your heart that will require "disciplining your body" to make it happen. Maybe it's taking better care of yourself or losing weight. Maybe it's doing the hard work and submitting yourself to the process of becoming debt free. Maybe it's recommitting to spending daily time with God—foregoing some sleep to make that happen. Whatever it is, pray about it and consider asking a friend to hold you accountable.
What does your flesh want? Is it the best thing for you?
How will discipline change your circumstances in the long run?
Romans 8:13, "For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live." (NIV)
Galatians 6:8, "The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life." (NIV)
© 2010 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105