“The most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not. It is the first lesson that ought to be learned and however early a person’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson a person learns thoroughly.” –Thomas L. Huxley
I know Huxley was right. My parents tried to teach me self-discipline, and I’m still learning it. Success requires self-discipline. The student, the athlete, and the business person must all cultivate the habit of self-discipline. It is true spiritually.
Paul compared the Christian to an Olympic athlete who commits to rigorous training “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (ICor. 9:27 ).
It takes discipline to control your thoughts. It doesn’t happen accidentally. It takes work. It requires our constant attention to what we are reading and watching. It demands periodic renewal, revival and refreshment. Paul exhorted, “Be renewed in the attitude of your mind” (Eph 4:23). With so many impure, dishonorable, and ungodly things that vie for our attention, continual self-discipline is needed in order to focus on the things that will build us up in the faith. The philosopher Plato wrote, “The first and best victory is to conquer self.” That begins in the mind.
People who smoke have told me they want to quit, but can’t. Why? Lack of self-discipline. All habits, good or bad, can be traced back to discipline or the lack of it. Rob Gilbert said, “First we form our habits, then our habits form us.” Whether the habits are good or bad depends on our self-discipline.
It requires great effort to break old habits or acquire new ones. Bible study is a habit. Prayer is a habit. Church attendance is a habit. But each one demands a discipline of time, effort and priority to make those habits permanent.
Too often we say or do something that we regret, but justify it by saying, “I couldn’t help it.” While it may be difficult to refrain from improper words or actions, it is possible. A bad temper is evidence of a lack of discipline. Idle words that hurt or impugn others indicate a failure to practice self-control. We can control our emotions if we choose to exercise strict self-discipline.
John Maxwell wrote, “If you desire to rise above the average in any endeavor, you have to be willing to be disciplined.” The first man to climb Mt.Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary, once said,” It is not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves.”
May my daily prayer be, “Dear God, help me to keep climbing and help me conquer self. In Jesus name. Amen.”