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Spiritual Discipline
March 7, 2024

Finding Direction and Balance in Spiritual Discipline

So much of life is determined by effort and discipline. Our grades in school, our success in sports or hobbies, and even who we marry are all impacted by how much effort and discipline we invest.

In his first letter to Timothy, Paul encouraged him toward a life of discipline (1 Timothy 4:7). But discipline without clear direction leads to frustration. As believers, finding that direction is key to steady growth in Christ.

Discipline Without Direction Leads to Misery

Having structure and routine is important, but it’s empty if we don’t know why we are disciplining ourselves. Many of us pour effort into things like school, sports, careers, or hobbies yet without a clear why, even good activities can lose meaning. Our lives can become joyless hustles if Christ is not at the center.

We must know why we are disciplining ourselves (1 Timothy 4:7). We must know our end goal (Romans 12:1-3). For the Christian, that goal should be becoming more like Jesus (Romans 8:29).

Focus on What Matters

Scripture warns about distractions (Luke 10:40-42). Some distractions are outright lies, diverting our attention to what doesn’t matter:

  • “You are defined by your upbringing.”
  • “Your family determines who you are.”
  • “Your hobbies determine who you are.”

Others promote good things that are just not the priority right now. Paul encouraged Timothy to “keep the main thing the main thing”—to make Christ the priority over other good but secondary pursuits (1 Tim. 4:6).

Of all the goals we could have, nothing is as important as knowing Him and becoming more like the God we serve. Our character, relationships and passions should increasingly reflect Him. As Christians, we are called to evaluate what we are devoting our time, energy, and talents to. Are we growing deeper in our relationship with God through regular Bible study, prayer, and worship? Or are less important priorities crowding Him out? Paul says there is only one thing that really matters in life.

“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings…”

Philippians 3:7–10

Practical Steps Toward Godliness

Living intentionally for Christ requires putting spiritual disciplines in place. But what does that look like?

Here are some practical ways we can train ourselves for godliness:

  • Prayer and Bible study. Set aside consistent daily time with the Lord. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, soak your soul in His word. Meet with Him in prayer.
  • Memorize Scripture. Hide it in your heart as you go about your day (Psalm 119:11).
  • Go to church. Be built up by corporate worship and biblical preaching and teaching from God’s word. Consider getting involved in a small group for community and accountability.
  • Fast from distractions. This could mean removing social media apps or turning off the TV—whatever distracts you from knowing Him.
  • Love people in concrete ways. Look for opportunities each week to serve others in Christ’s name.
  • Keep a spiritual journal. Note areas God is challenging you in and record His faithfulness. This can help you think through priorities, etc., and encourage you during difficult seasons.

Simple disciplines can reshape our lives and impact eternity.

Growing in Freedom and Joy

As we discipline our minds, schedules, and habits for godliness, we will grow in the freedom and joy of knowing the One who gave His life for us. Our lives will increasingly point others to the Savior we seek to follow each day. Our hope and identity are found in Christ alone.

Written by Caleb Adams

Caleb currently serves as Interim Student Minister. He holds a Master of Divinity Degree from Mid America Baptist Theological Seminary with an emphasis in Pastoral Studies. Formerly, he and his wife Courtney served as missionaries in La Paz, Bolivia where he served on staff at Highlands International School. Caleb and Courtney have two children and are eagerly awaiting their third.

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