January 3, 2009

Thoughts on Discipline, Part 1

I was originally going to have this all as one post, but I realized that it was going to be terribly long. I have therefore split this up into three parts. Here is Part 2 and Part 3.
As a result of my New Year's resolution, I've started my readings regarding discipline. So far, I've kept my readings to Scriptures listed under the word discipline. A couple of my finds:
Job 5:17 - discipline from God is a blessing
Psalm 94:12 - God's discipline provides relief from days of trouble
I have always thought of discipline as meaning a punishment for doing something wrong. Indeed, in most of the verses listed for discipline, the Greek or Hebrew word used for discipline does mean to chastise or punish. But why am I supposed to be grateful for discipline? How can discipline possibly be seen as a blessing? I looked up the definition for discipline in Webster's and found that the first definition for discipline is "training to act in accordance with rules." Going by this definition, discipline can be viewed as a way of life, rather than a consequence for an action. I decided to go with this definition and re-think how I viewed the above verses.
If, using the above Webster's definition, discipline is a way to train in order to know how to act, then I can (and should) be grateful for the discipline. For example, every soldier must follow a specific discipline. This discipline, or way of life, ensures that everyone knows exactly what to do. While the soldier undoubtedly doesn't enjoy following the discipline at all times, he will have moments when the training he received as part of his discipline saves his life. He is then able to see how his training saved his life and he can be thankful that he knew how to respond correctly.
In the same manner, Christians are disciples of Christ, because we follow a specific discipline given by Christ on how to live. Our discipline shows us how to live our lives in a manner pleasing to God. Since God is our Creator, He knows the best way for us to live our lives. He knows exactly what we need in order to live our life to the fullest. When we don't follow His discipline for our lives, we can receive discipline from God. This discipline from God should serve to guide us back to the discipline He wants us to follow for our lives. I can choose to resent being disciplined by God for my willful actions, or I can choose to be grateful that God cares enough about His creation to give a discipline that shows the way to live as He designed.

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