I have always found the topic of self-discipline to be a fascinating subject. I am in the process of reading Jim George’s book, What God Wants to Do For You, and I recently stumbled onto his chapter about self-discipline. I couldn’t read it fast enough.

Jim George says, “God expects His men and women to desire self-discipline, nurture it, and function by it.” (page 161) Jim compares the lives of Samson versus Timothy to give us a picture of what self-discipline looks like.

Samson was “one of the most promising men of his day…. This man had everything going for him.” He was selected by God from his mother’s womb. He was the “Mr. Universe” of his day. He was the “poster boy” for a Special forces unit. And, he was blessed with a Godly heritage. “Both of his parents witnessed a miraculous appearance of the angel of the Lord.” “Samson possessed all the privileges that any person could ever want or need in order to be successful…except he lacked self-discipline! This character flaw caused him to become a tragic picture of runaway self-gratification, dissipation, and foolishness.” (page 162)

Jim George goes on to define self-discipline: “This term literally means ‘a calling to soundness of mind, or to self-control’…. Self-discipline—or the lack thereof!—is what separates a Samson from a Moses, or a man with mere potential from a man of power. Samson knew he had everything, but he failed to use it for God’s purposes.” (page 163)

Now let’s look at Timothy. He was continually opposed due to his association with the apostle Paul. He was opposed over the message of the gospel. He was opposed for being young. (page 163)

He was opposed so much it upset his stomach:) (See 1 Timothy 5:23). Paul had to remind him: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT)

“God would empower him [Timothy] to control his thoughts and actions, and to discipline his attitudes, even under the most intense persecution and contention.” (pages 163-164)

Jim points out that God offers these same promises to us today. He gives four pointers on how to accomplish a disciplined life:

  1. It is a discipline of your mind and involves proper behavior and sound judgment.
  2. It is a discipline of your body where you show restraint in what you eat and a pattern of healthy exercise.
  3. It has a “twin sister” called “Self-Control”. “As a believer, you have the Spirit’s power within you to help you restrain your passions and appetites. You have the ability to say no to fleshly desires.”
  4. It is required in Scripture. …”self-discipline doesn’t not come automatically. That’s why you are required to ‘exercise…self-control in all things’ (1 Corinthians 9:25 ESV). You are also required to ‘apply all diligence [and]…self-control’ (2 Peter 1:5-6).” (See pages 164-165)

At the end of each chapter, Jim gives a check list of how to apply God’s power and allow it to work in your own life. So… if you want to “live a life of productivity and accomplishment” you have to look deeply into these areas:

  • Spiritual life— “…Are you actively seeking to develop godly discipline? Are you successfully handling temptation? Are you dealing with sins such as anger, laziness…. Don’t forget unconfessed sin robs you of the spiritual power required to be self-disciplined.”
  • Mental life—”… discipline your mind through the reading of God’s Word. Memorize Scripture, especially verses dealing with the areas in which you need God’s help to overcome weakness….Discipline your mind away from stimuli that corrupt your thinking. Monitor what you see.”
  • Physical life— “Watch what, how often, and how much you eat. Get proper rest. Exercise on a regular basis.”
  • Work life and home life— Are they balanced?
  • Financial life— “Are you spending an excess on wants and not able to take care of needs? Are you guilty of buying on impulse? Are you giving God the ‘first-fruits’ of you paycheck?” (see pages 166-167)

I would like to end this blogpost with a quote found at the beginning of the chapter.

“No horse gets anywhere until he is harnessed. No steam or gas ever drives anything until it is confined. No Niagara is ever turned into light and power until it is tunneled. No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated, disciplined.” [From: Benjamin R. DeJong, Uncle Ben’s Quote Book (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1977) p. 131]

Did you find anything from Jim’s chapter that you would like to work on in your life this week? Send me a comment and I will pray for you in that area.