Discipline... Not a Bad Thing
The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.
~ I Peter 4:7-10
When you hear the word “discipline”, what comes to mind? Punishment? Time out? Spanking? Today, discipline does not have a positive connotation. I have even heard parents say that they do not like to discipline their children, meaning they do not like to use corporal punishment on their children.
However, the word “discipline” means activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training. To be disciplined doesn’t have to be negative, it can also be very positive. For an athlete to become good, it takes discipline, working out, extra practice, eating right. To lose weight takes discipline to not over-eat, to eat healthy food and stay away from the cookies. When you are trying to lose weight, no one is there to put you in time out if you eat a cookie, or yell at you for eating a hamburger instead of a salad. But when we don’t see results, we can’t get mad at anyone but ourselves.
Peter writes in his first letter that we are to discipline ourselves for the sake of prayer, to maintain a constant love for one another and to be hospitable to one another. The discipline that Peter talks about isn’t punishment, but rather training ourselves so that we are better at praying, loving, and being hospitable. Like a good athlete who trains to get better every day, Peter believes that we cannot practice praying, loving or being hospitable too much. We can never become perfect at praying to God, loving each other or taking care of each other.
In our Christian life, the need to remember to be disciplined is an important part of our faith. Not that God or Jesus is waiting for us to mess up so we can be disciplined; the cross frees us from that. We are to be disciplined in what we do - just like an athlete, a musician, or a person trying to lose weight - so that we might become more like Jesus every day.
This week, as we go about our daily lives, let us be disciplined in our prayer life. Be disciplined in loving one another. And be disciplined in being hospitable to one another without complaining. If we are disciplined in our actions we will allow the love of Jesus Christ to show through us more and more each day. But we do this not because God will discipline us if we don’t, but be disciplined because of the love that God has for us in Jesus Christ.