An undisciplined, untrained mind and body will eventually place a Christian leader in serious, life-threatening situations.
Perhaps indiscipline isn’t as big a deal to many of us as it should be—especially as Christian leaders. How often do we laugh about our overindulgence, especially when it comes to food. This is foolishness. Do we understand how life-threatening a lack of self-restraint can be?
For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths.
The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray (Proverbs 5:21-23).
The cost of overindulgence
The death of the fool doesn’t happen in an evening, or with one indiscretion, but gradually, over time as the will is weakened through years (perhaps) of overindulgence and indiscipline.
An unwillingness to say “no” to myself, as decisively and often as I should, may lead me to deep regret; a loss of self-respect; to mental, emotional, and physical breakdown; to the loss of opportunity; to moral decay and compromises; to self-loathing, bondage, and enslavement; and eventually to despair. It could even lead to death—the death of dreams, the death of ministry passion, the death of my spirit, the death of hope, and perhaps physical and even spiritual death. This was Solomon’s story. The wisest man who ever lived would not restrain himself from sensual pleasure, and his untamed appetites turned his heart away from God (I Kings 11:1-3). This truth causes me to face myself and my vulnerabilities with fear and trembling.
Thank God for His Patience!
Let’s thank God for his patience with his sons and daughters through countless stops and starts as they strive for self-mastery. Let’s thank him for his mercy when wild horses of the mind have roamed too freely, for too long; when the rivers of appetite have overflowed their banks and we’ve suffered the flood waters of shame. Let’s thank the Lord for his understanding and forgiveness when we’ve failed. Let’s thank him for the faithfulness of the compassionate, restraining Holy Spirit when we’ve cried out to him from a place of weakness and vulnerability. The bible says, “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:13-14). Our Father is aware of our thoughts. He knows our heart and our desire to be self-controlled, and he celebrates every painful inch of progress we make.
But let us also remember that those who resist grace, rebel against correction, refuse self-restraint, will like Solomon, deal with tremendous pain and sorrow. And that those who stubbornly persist in unrestrained self-indulgence could experience an end far worse than they imagine.
Father of Jesus, I thank you for this warning from the book of wisdom this morning. Help me, as Paul admonished Timothy, to train myself toward godliness today (I Timothy 4:7). In Jesus name, amen.
To learn more about personal discipline, see SGC’s course ,“Spiritual Formation.”