The key word today is “discipline” — ah, such a lovely word. Why should we concern ourselves with discipline? I think we can all agree a lot of good comes from self-discipline.
This would be where we better ourselves; where we replace bad or unhealthy behaviors with good ones until they become a habit. At first our discipline is done consciously, then as it becomes established, self-discipline becomes a habit that’s routine and automatic. We don’t have to give what we do a second thought when we’ve established a healthy habit.
Spiritual disciplines are another matter. Spiritual disciplines are habits twe form in specific areas of our lives to help us have a more intimate relationship with God. The goal is not a healthy habit, but a healthy relationship through change. Spiritual discipline should be done with our hearts fully engaged, not simply out of routine. There are many spiritual disciplines, some are inward, involving our thought life, and some are outward, involving our actions and how we act toward others. The list is long and varied, but the end result is to be consciously engaged in pursuing Christ and his likeness.
Athletes know they need to exercise and discipline themselves to reach their goals. If we never use our leg muscles, when we try to walk we would fall down. Likewise we need to exercise our spiritual muscles on a regular basis to have the strength to walk as Christ followers.
During these 40 days that lead to Easter, I want to encourage you to exercise your faith muscles and take on a spiritual discipline. As you reflect on Hebrews 12:1-2, “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
Think about what you would need to let go of or engage in during this period to help you focus on Christ’s sacrifice.
Lt. Leslie Cyr is an officer in the Salvation Army at 661 Colorado St. For more information, go to carsoncitysalarmy.org.