Discipline

Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray Proverbs 10:17
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.            2 Timothy 1:7

When we were children, our parents taught us discipline. At least I hope your parents did. If they did not, you may be suffering quite a bit now as an adult. Parents teach children by implementing external rules and routines that children, hopefully, will internalize and claim for their own as they grow up. So, at first, discipline is external, that is, someone imposes it on us, until those good, healthy practices become internal.

Initially, external discipline is rejected, typically, because we “want to do what we want to do, when we want to”. You know this to be true if you have ever parented a two year old. In fact, it is human nature to want to be independent, “do my own thing”, and feel free of restraint. While disciplined independence is wonderful, undisciplined independence is a disaster.

Personal disciplines are hard, but they are ultimately good for us, even life-saving. Good eating habits, regular exercising, and other basic health practices usually lead to good results for us. Then, as we mature, and realize that the world is much bigger than our own desires and comfort,  we come to realize that those personal disciplines are good for those around us too.

So, in this day of COVID-19, which is stretching our physical and emotional limits, we fall back on the fact that doing the hard thing is typically good for us because it is the right thing. As my daughter recently said in an interview, “Trust your training” when things are difficult. In times of pain and hardship, trust your training, your personal disciplines, to sustain you during the hard times.

Those personal disciplines also, in this inter-dependent world, help to save other people. Our own lack of discipline can endanger the health of others. We cannot resort to personal comforts at the expense of others. Loving other people costs us something. So if that cost is wearing a mask to protect others, washing our hands dozens of times/day, keeping social distance, and not buying every scrap of toilet paper to be found on a store shelf, then that is a small price to pay for everyone to be a little safer.

Disciplines are good for us, and they can save our life, and perhaps the lives of others.

Prayer: Thank you Father for loving us enough to extend disciplines in our life which give life and health, Amen.

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