The first chapter of Donald Whitney’s book, “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” begins by saying that discipline without direction is drudgery. Drudgery is by definition toiling without joy, a senseless and meaningless work. I couldn’t agree more.
Your view or belief of God and who you are in relation to God will answer not only how you will live your life, but why you will live your life in such a way.
Motivation Comes From Purpose
…discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness;1 Timothy 4:7b NASB
What motivated Daniel and his friends to abstain from food and wine that would defile them, pray three times each day and remain faithful to God in light of truly overwhelming opposition? I believe that it was their understanding of who God was and who they were to God. It was their relationship with God. They believed in final judgement and the justice and sovereignty of God.
When we honestly review our daily lives, where is most of our focus? Is it on the things of God or on the things of this world? Depending on how you answer these questions, you will find where your purpose lies and what truly motivates you to make the decisions you make every moment of the day.
For the Purpose of Godliness
How do we come to desire God? We should desire God when we come to a proper understanding of God and ourselves in view of our sins and His salvation. Most do. However, in addition to a proper understanding, the desire is relative to the conviction of the heart. Both work together for the full effect of the Gospel. But during those seasons when the heart is not moved and warmed by the Gospel, will we ignore God and seek to be fulfilled elsewhere? No! We must not.
Therefore, we must be students of the spiritual disciplines, of the reading of scripture and of prayer and gathering with the church in worship. Devoting ourselves in all these disciplines for the purpose of godliness. We must train ourselves and strive to regularly work out the muscles of faith so that we may be ready to hold on when things get difficult.
For the times when it becomes difficult to pray, when God feels so far from us, when the Word of God does not stir us in conviction, we must strengthen our hearts in preparation for those times by spiritual discipline. During those seasons of life, it may get hard to continue to read God’s Word or pray to Him. But no matter what, we must not stop gathering together. Put yourself in a position of grace. Surround yourself with the Truth when you find it difficult to seek out for yourself. Confess to one another, seek counsel, pray with one another.
A Special Note on God’s Word
Our generation is plagued with undisciplined faith. We do not expect children, and many times even adults, to sit for 10 minutes to read a book, let alone the Bible, before squirming for the smart phone or some other form of entertainment unless they actually like the book.
How can we expect our prayers and our faith to have any power when we don’t even read God’s Word? In the spiritual armor of God, the Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit. The only offense we have against the flaming arrows of the evil one is this Sword. Sharpen your Swords. Let us read and mediate on the Word of God daily. The Word of God is Truth and Life.
1 Blessed is the manPsalm 1:1-6 (ESV)
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
For more of Donald Whitney’s Book, “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life,” visit the following link or search online at your favorite bookstore.