dis·ci·pline [dis-uh-plin] –noun
1. training to act in accordance with rules; drill: military discipline.
2. activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training
3. punishment inflicted by way of correction and training.
4. the rigor or training effect of experience, adversity, etc.
5. behavior in accord with rules of conduct; behavior and order maintained by training and control
6. a set or system of rules and regulations.
7. Ecclesiastical. the system of government regulating the practice of a church as distinguished from its doctrine.
8. an instrument of punishment, esp. a whip or scourge, used in the practice of self-mortification or as an instrument of chastisement in certain religious communities.
9. a branch of instruction or learning: the disciplines of history and economics. –verb (used with object)
10. to train by instruction and exercise; drill.
11. to bring to a state of order and obedience by training and control.
12. to punish or penalize in order to train and control; correct; chastise.
(taken from Dictionary.com)
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. "Make level paths for your feet," so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed."
I've been thinking a bit lately about the term discipline. I think of it often through the day as I am working dligently to train the hearts of my children. Often this is the form of the word which means to "punish, penalize in order to train and control; correct; castise" as stated in #12 above from Dictionary.com. However, during my talks with Noah I explain Hebrews 12 and the fact that discipline, both the #12 meaning AND #2 above as in "activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training," are typically not enjoyable or pleasant but they produce a harvest of righteousness and peace. The two sides of this come up so often in life it's so great that God's word addresses it so clearly. In Hebrews 12 the topic of enduring chastening is one sign of being a child of God. God chastens those He loves but in the same chapter the race metaphor is also used, as in disciplining ourselves for the purpose of training. This one (training)is more of the meaning I'm talking about in this post.
My John MacArthur commentary discusses vs 12,13 in this way:
"The author returnes to the race metaphor begun in vv. 1-3 (cf. Prov 4:25-27) and incorporates language taken from Isaiah 35:3 to describe the disiplined individual's condition like a weary runner whose arms drop and knees wobble. When experiencing trials in his life, the believer must not allow the circumstances to get the best of him. Instead, he must endure and get his second wind so as to be renewed to continue the race." (Commentary Bible p. 1920)
When I was studying my Bible the morning of a big bike ride (another insane fundraising activity I did) I came across these verses in Hebrews and I wrote them on a note card to tape to my bike handles. Those verses became so engrained in my mind by the end of those 5 days peddling my way from Big Bear to Mamoth (yes from the parking lot at Big Bear, down the mountain, along the dreaded 395 to the top of Mammoth at the main lodge) that I had a better understanding of disciplining myself as in the #2 and #4 meanings above.
As I was training for my marathon (another fundraising event I've mentioned on here before) I again focused on Hebrews 12. I wrote it on the back of my jersey the day of the event as a reminder to those behind me (not many people were back there mind you - ha ha).
During trials in my life (too many to list) including times of chastening by the Lord I've often referred again to Hebrews 12. I've been reminded of the fact that God's word is living and active (1 Peter 2) and that although it is constant and always the same its meaning can apply to SO many different areas of our lives at so many different times. Don't confuse what I'm saying here - there is only one true meaning of scripture which can be found through careful study of historical and cultural context, along with a few other specific methods of exegeting scripture. Another post for another time - after reading up on it so I don't lead any astray in my ignorance.
I am posting this because Hebrews 12 is once again popping up in my life. I've been dying to get a double jogger I can use to run (my favorite form of exercise) but we're cutting back on extras until the mortgage business picks up again. I began to pray for a very cheap jogger that I could afford using leftover Christmas money and money from the sale of my current jogger. A fellow mom at Jordan's therapy unit came in one day saying she wanted to sell her $700 jogger for $175 to me. That is the exact price I could afford. Of course I took her up on it and I've felt like a free woman ever since. I can now get out of the house to exercise while working around Jordan's therapy schedule. I've once again disciplined myself to run almost daily and am now already up to 4.6 miles. In addition, this physical discipline has affected every other area of my life. My Bible study time is more consistent, my prayer time is getting much better, my training of my children, my denying of myself in my eating habits (as well as sinful habits), the list goes on. All this to say how great it is that if we can just take one area of our lives and work at becoming disciplined the same process of training ourselves will apply to all others. Definition #12 "to bring to a state of order and obedience by training and control" will naturally spill over into our lives as a whole.
We can all do what I've done for a long time in regard to many areas of my life...sit around and talk about it. However, I've found it to be much more effective when we actually get up and do something. We can talk about all the things we want to do or should be doing and never, ever do them. If I can impart anything in this post it's for all of us to simply get up and do something...commit to reading God's word daily, praying throughout your day, begin working on memory verses with your children or yourself, add one small healthy habit to your life (walk with your family three times a week) -whatever it is stop talking and do it (I, of course, recommend starting the habit of reading your Bible daily and praying before beginning any of the other ones listed). :)