Sunday, 13 September 2020 05:35

Personal discipline: A major hallmark of christian discipleship - Taiwo Akinola

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Taiwo Akinola Taiwo Akinola

I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway ~ 1 Corinthians 9:27.

Introduction

Not many people today want to hear about discipline and self denial. Gratification of personal desires, indulgences and unqualified pursuit of self interests have rather become more appealing in our present day societies.

In public services, politics, governance as well as in inter-personal relationships, the culture of “what’s in this for me” is fast eroding the virtues of sacrificing our interests for a higher cause. However, if we are to fulfill our mandate as Christ’s vital witnesses upon the earth, the true Christians must keep their heads above the precarious waters of self-interest.

The duty of Christ’s disciples is summed up in one word, obedience. A disciple is a disciplined follower of His Master. Hence, in the truest sense, the believers’ relationship with Christ is to be founded upon sound personal discipline and self-denial.

Jesus Christ began very early in His ministry to gather a company of disciples, with a view to preparing an agency for carrying on the works of the divine kingdom. These disciples were called with conscious reference to an ulterior end: “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” This shows that Jesus Christ desired not just to have followers, but men whom He might train to make disciples of others. And, both in His words and actions, He clearly attached supreme importance to that part of His work, which culminated in training the twelve, who were His first-hand witnesses on earth. It was their peculiar duty to give to the world a faithful account of the Master’s words and deeds, a just image of His character, and a true reflection of His Spirit. Only persons, who had been, as nearly as possible, disciplined servants of the Incarnate Word, obviously could render such services.

The Instrument that Sets the Standard Must Be Precise

Those on who so much depends must possess very extraordinary qualifications. The mirrors must be finely polished that are designed to reflect the image of Christ! The apostles of the Christian faith must be men of rare spiritual endowment.

Christianity is intended for all nations; therefore, its heralds must be free from narrowness of mind, and emancipated from the encumbrances of carnality. They must be superior to all conventional notions of human weaknesses, and receive transforming grace to become capable of glorying in the Cross of Christ. They must combine strength of character, enlargement of heart, and enlightenment of soul,  all in the superlative degree.

Indeed, the early disciples of Christ had much to learn and unlearn as apprentices before they could satisfy these high requirements. And, we also must be disciplined enough to maintain our spiritual gaits as standard-bearers of the everlasting gospel today, knowing well that the cost of discipleship cannot be avoided, adulterated or even softened and still retain its cutting edge impacts.

Personal Choices Between Discipline and Indiscipline

Inadvertently, a man may be at one and the same time both his own best friend and greatest enemy by the choices he makes in the scaler quantities between discipline and indiscipline. And, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “discipline is the choice between what you want now and what you want most”.

Indiscipline is living low on the strength of character. It’s a careless kind of living that calls to question the reality and quality of our understanding of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Indiscipline is the greatest undoing of many people, including those who were born with starry destinies. Indiscipline and its twin brother, indolence, are the missing links between who you are and who you might have been. Overindulgence of any form is generally fatal to success, and it will always show up in the critical paths to derailment.

A life that refuses to embrace discipline will be painfully reduced to a damaging level of mere animals. The most damaging forms of indiscipline are connected to eating, drinking, illicit sexual activities, hard-heartedness and heedless pursuit of money. Other tell-take signs include: disobedience to God, inappropriate behaviors in relation to Holy things, rebellion, inconsistency, general poor time management, intemperance, arrogance, careless talks, inattention to details, deliberate ignorance, procrastination, idleness etc.

Please keep in mind that whenever you break spiritual protocol, you’re ruled out of order and blessings, which is inimical to fulfilment of destiny. Diligence is an index mark of true discipline. And, no doubt, the hand of the diligent makes rich. Diligence is being consistent or steady in the line of one’s godly goals in life. And, just as one wise man noted: “There are no traffic jams along the extra mile” (Roger Staubach). The paths of greatness are unarguably even for those who are disciplined and diligent.

Discipline comes through self-control. But, before you control conditions, you must first control yourself. If you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self. Self-mastery is the hardest job ever tackled, and that’s why only few people engage in it. But, grace to lead decent lives of discipline and decorum is truly available for all believers in Christ Jesus.

Conclusion

Without doubt, God’s plan of discipline is better than Satan’s ploy of self gratification. Men are easily tempted to make a dash for cheap grace, and to stylishly ignore the real issues of cross-bearing. But, the stand of the gospel is ever clear for all to see: “.... whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25).

If a person willingly ‘loses’ his own life for a new life in Christ, he will find liberty promised to the children of God, and no power on earth or from the pits of hell will ever be able to exempt him from true gains. Happy Sunday!

Further reading: Proverb 6:6-15; 11:24

  • Bishop Taiwo Akinola,

Rhema Christian Church,

Otta, Ogun State, Nigeria.

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