What comes to mind when you hear the word discipline? It has such a negative connotation attached to it. There are two types of discipline: punishment for poor choices, and a conscious effort to do something that doesn’t produce instant gratification, but is good for you (ie. exercise). Richard Foster wrote a book titled Celebration of Discipline, in which he puts forth the various spiritual disciplines such as listening, fasting and serving. Henry Noewen contends that if we want to be disciples we must learn to live a disciplined life.
My experience with discipline is that it often involves doing something that I don’t feel like doing, yet has significant benefits for my life. For instance, I didn’t really feel like getting out of bed before the sun came up this morning to come downstairs to be with Jesus. My bed was cozy, the snooze button was tempting, yet I came. The benefit of choosing this discipline day in and day out are beyond measure.
Hebrews 12:11 tells us, “Discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful but sorrowful, but for those who have been trained by it, it reveals the peaceful fruit of right relationship with God.” That’s it! The result of spiritual discipline is right relationship with our Creator. I guess that trumps any short-term “pain” we experience.