We are a three part being just like God because we were made in his image and likeness (Gen. 1:27). We are a spirit, we have a soul, and we live in a body. Our spirit is made into a new creature when we believe on the name of Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17). Our soul is comprised of our mind, intellect, emotions, and will and it is renewed daily by the Word(Rom. 12:2). And our body is the flesh suit that those things live in along with the Holy Spirit who makes his home in us to quicken us (Rom. 8:11). That’s our general structure. We’ve talked about the spirit and soul in previous posts and what our part in pursuing a godly life involves. Now it’s time to talk about the body and how to get it under control!If you’ve been serving the Lord for any length of time, I’m sure that you’ve heard the scripture Luke 9:23 preached in the “how to” section of being a Christian. Jesus words are to “deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow [him].” He was telling them to deny their flesh, the natural realm of senses,take up the mission set before them to share the Word of God (which is hard work), and go only in the direction he guides. This denying of the flesh means not letting your senses, feelings, physical pains or pleasures, dictate your actions. Faith requires action so when you determine to have your actions dictated by faith then a godly life is lived out.
Controlling your actions can be accomplished by growing your self-control. Self-control is a fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5:23). Since it is a fruit, that means that self-control is not something that God is going to one day just pour out on you if you pray for it. No, he gave you the seed of self-control when he gave you his spirit to dwell in you. It is your job to cultivate the ground it was planted in and water it and nourish it. When you seek God for help growing the fruit of the spirit he will answer your prayer, but not by growing those things for you. He will instead give you the opportunities to use those qualities.
I’ve had the desire for opportunities to grow in self-control or self-discipline, so God gave me plenty of time to exercise it. The important thing to remember about making lifestyle changes is to do it in baby steps.
Baby steps will lead to consistent success in growth. A routine is primary in facilitating this growth. If you have no routine, like me a few months ago, don’t try to build one out of thin air. Implement one thing. I suggest implementing an action to perform at the start of your day.
I’ve started my day with prayer and reading the Bible since I decided to serve God wholeheartedly 2 ½ years ago. Now if that’s not something you are doing every morning then you need to start. When you start your day with Jesus, the rest can be blessed. If you are having devotional time in the evenings, that’s great, now add morning devotions too. If you say, “I’m just not a morning person”, or “There is just way too much going on in the morning”: not being a morning person is a choice, not a condition, and busy mornings can be helped by getting up earlier.Why are you living everyday if it’s not in total surrender to Jesus? What is so important in the morning that you can’t carve out 15-30 minutes for the Creator of the Universe, the one who laid down his life for you to have eternity? Trust me when I say that anything you have to do in the morning is not as important as making sure your actions are committed to line up with God’s plan for the rest of the day. We’re talking about self-discipline remember. Discipline yourself to do what you need to, instead of living what you feel like.
Mornings are challenging but I’ve had a couple years to practice. The more pressing challenge for me was the rest of the day. I had to start with my evening routine. The first piece of routine that I had to commit to do was take a shower before bed. That may sound kind of silly, but if I took my shower in the morning instead, it would throw the rest of my day off. The reason for me not taking one at night would be out of laziness anyway. To say no to the flesh, I determined that taking a shower every night before bed, no matter what time I got home, was the first step.
I didn’t try to add anything else to my routine for a few weeks, until I knew I had that piece set in stone.
Don’t get ahead of yourself when working on your routine. An athlete can’t go from lifting 200 pounds to lifting 500 pounds in a week, it takes training, and so will this life. Be patient with yourself, another fruit of the spirit!
I will continue on this subject of self-discipline for the next week or two at least. I’ll share more tools that have led to a healthier happy me, and you can always comment with questions or if you’d like additional resources.
**Taking baby steps concept was adapted from the Craig Groeschel book Divine Direction**