Tonight the #1 seeded Kansas Jayhawks play the #8 seeded North Carolina Tar Heels for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.
It’s the culmination and climax of March Madness, one of the most exciting times of the year for all basketball fans.
Even though my bracket is shredded, I will predict the winner of tonight’s game.
The team that plays with the most discipline for 40 minutes will win the game.
Discipline is often discussed by color commentators. “They run a very disciplined offense,” speaks to a team’s deliberate execution of running set plays and following the coach’s game plan. A disciplined team doesn’t beat themselves with unforced turnovers. They don’t lose control.
Sometimes an announcer will observe, “They’re a good team with a lot of talent, but don’t always play with discipline.” Or speak of a talented player saying, “He’s a great athlete, but lacks personal discipline.”
Discipline is vital to success in every area of life. Sports. Business. Finances. And our spiritual lives as well.
Using a different sports metaphor, since James Naismith hadn’t invented basketball yet, the apostle Paul compared Christianity to running the Christian race or engaging in a boxing match.
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. –I Cor. 9:24-27
Discipline involves temperance Self-control. Sober-mindedness.
In her book, Reach for Summit, Pat Summit, the Hall-of fame coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols, offered this observation. “Discipline is the internal mechanism that self motivates you. It gets you out of bed in the morning. It gets you to work on time, and it tells you when you need to work late. It drives you. It is essential to success, whether individually or in a group.”
Consider these four areas in which discipline is vital to the spiritual growth, development, and success of a Christ-disciple.
#1 Mental discipline.
The Bible admonishes us to think and meditate on the things that are true. Noble. Right. Pure. Lovely. Admirable. Virtuous. And praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8). Discipline of thought leads to discipline of action, habit, and character.
Satan wants to fill our minds with trash. Dilute our thoughts will carnal enticements. And to lead us away from spiritual thoughts that elevate, ennoble and edify.
Successful disciples are disciplined mentally.
#2 Emotional Discipline.
Solomon said,“A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back” (Prov. 29:11). Disciplined disciples learn to listen more and speak less. (Jas. 1;19). To control their tongue (Jas. 3:1-11). To refrain from angry outbursts. Hostile reactions. Brawling responses. Slanderous accusations. And uncontrolled temper tantrums.
Successful disciples are disciplined emotionally.
#3 Discipline of the will.
The will or volition has to do with our choices. Decisions. It involves purpose. Determination. And discretion.
Often our challenge is not a lack of knowledge but a deficiency of strong will to do what we know we need to do. Barnabas encouraged the Antioch Christians “that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord” (Ax. 11:23). In other words, with a resolute will. A settled determination. And purposeful decision.
Successful disciples make disciplined decisions.
#4 Discipline of Conscience.
Conscience can be a helpful moral governor that warns, regulates, and prevents us from spiritual disaster. However, if the conscience hasn’t been properly trained, it may guide us in the wrong direction. A defiled, hardened, or evil conscience is of little value. However, when our conscience is cleansed by Jesus’ blood and disciplined to be good, pure, and holy, then it can provide joy, peace, and spiritual stability.
Successful disciples train their conscience in godliness.
Lou Holtz was right when wrote, “Without self-discipline, success is impossible. Period.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman