Written By Ryan Walters
“…we capture their rebellious thoughts & teach them to obey Christ”
-2 Corinthians 10:5
It is a misconstrued and abused word. Each man and woman sees this word in a slightly different way. As humans, we are all subject to incorporate our own biases even unconsciously when we choose to ‘put down the law’ in our form of discipline. For many of us, we will practice discipline as we saw our parents and grandparents demonstrate it. We tend to follow the models of others when it comes to the topic of discipline whether it’s our family set of rules, government standards, or work policies we abide by in our careers.
I certainly have nothing wrong with that. However; I believe in matching up any form of discipline with what the Word of God has to say. And remember that discipline refers to a myriad of concerns including disciplining a child & self-discipline. So here are a few examples of what the Bible says about the art of discipline:
Proverbs 12:1 “To learn, you must love discipline. It is stupid to hate correction.”
Proverbs 13:24 “Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.”
Hebrews 12:6; 12:11 “For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one He accepts as His child…No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening- it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right for those who are trained in this way.”
Job 5:17 “But consider the joy of those corrected by God! Do not despise the discipline of the Almighty when you sin.”
1 Corinthians 9:27 “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.”
I could go on and on. The Bible makes it enormously clear that discipline is a way of life inaugurated by God Himself with His creation. Do you realize that God invented discipline? The Copyright goes to Him, not us. So it is amusing to me that those who don’t believe in God are utilizing His strategy of love in the first place. For instance, two unbelievers (parents) have a two-year old (“the terrible twos”- perfect for examples). The child throws his building block at daddy’s face. Daddy withholds the block from his child for the rest of the day and places the child in the designated “timeout chair” for ten minutes to think over his inappropriate behavior. The child slowly begins to understand, “okay, I was punished so something I did was wrong.” And so the gradual development of learning lessons from prior mistakes takes flight. This scenario consists of two individuals who are operating with the teaching techniques of Somebody they supposedly don’t believe exists!
Discipline goes hand in hand with punishment and correction. But this punishment & correction I speak of originates from love. It originates from a jealous God who yearns for His children to learn from their mistakes. God is a wise God. He knows that the more we’re purified through trials & punishment, the more likely we are to become one with Him; to become more in tune with His ways. This is a beautiful piece of the process of sanctification. We all desperately need discipline from a loving Father because as sinful people motivated by fleshly desires, we’re so apt to shun correction in our profound pride.
I want to place my focus in this study on the discipline of the mind. Whatever garbage cycles throughout our thoughts on a daily basis is inevitably going to impact our decision-making. That decision-making can then possibly lead to poor decisions stained by our inappropriate, godless ideas. And those poor decisions ultimately leave us a few strides short of the finish line: the goal of becoming like Christ & the goal of attaining spiritual intimacy with God the Father.
See. What is sin? It is a slippery slope. Our iniquities are a landslide that begins a chain reaction. And a reaction that sets us apart from God the Almighty (“It’s your sins that have cut you off from God” –Isaiah 59:2). As my good friend Larry Shaw would say, ‘Satan is the master of the slightest redirection’.
With all that said, do you not think that learning the trade of disciplining the mind would benefit your growth & connection to Christ? I know I certainly do. Here are six tips to help you get jumpstarted:
- Take your alone time with God up a notch.
Raise your level. Pray and reach out to God any moment you have the chance to. There is no such thing as “communicating with God” too much. He longs to hear from you. Don’t follow standards of others. Keeping raising that bar. Instead of ‘the sky is the limit’, I like to think ‘heaven is the limit’ and sorry but your bar won’t ever reach heaven while being down here.
- Analyze & elevate your company.
“You become who you spend your time around.” That didn’t apply to Jesus but He wasn’t a sinner like us either. Some of us may be less shaky in our faith than others but we are all vulnerable to this nonetheless. What groups of people are you affiliated with? Is their behavior rubbing off on you? Do you notice a trend? Sending a baby Christian with no fellowship of believers into a completely godless environment is like sending him or her to the slaughter house. Get involved with those who share your beliefs and become firm in the Lord before you attempt witnessing to and spending long periods of time with people with paradoxical views.
- Don’t place yourself in compromising situations.
This tip branches off of #3. My friend Larry who I mentioned earlier says this,
“We could expand ‘What Would Jesus Do’ to ‘Where Would Jesus Be’. If we got this one right more often, maybe we wouldn’t have to face what would He do because we wouldn’t find ourselves in potentially compromising situations.”
- Learn to receive correction despite your human nature to reject it.
Not one of us ever want to hear that we are wrong. This is because we are so absorbed in the self and being individualistic. Put an end to living for yourself and begin a new life of living for God. Slowly but surely, this new life will adapt God’s ways and your ways will decrease. Evaluate your heart DAILY. Do not go one day without checking your spiritual condition and searching for areas that you may be drifting away from the Lord. Tim Keller says this, “the sin that is the most destructive is the one you’re most defensive about”. So find the sin you constantly defend and surrender it to God. Release that burden.
- Practice the fruits of the spirit.
If you really desire to be an expertise in disciplining your mind, then go to Galatians 5:22-23 and memorize the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, & self-control. Don’t stop there. Apply them. Knowledge is of no worth when not practiced (“Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from Me- everything you heard from me and saw Me doing” –Philippians 4:9).
- Meditate on God’s Word.
Garbage in, Garbage out. What enters our minds will exit in our behaviors, words & attitudes. Follow the model of Philippians 4:8 “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Ryan Walters. ’98.6 Too Cold’ Founder, Blogger