Once we make that decision to choose the cross, discipline becomes a prerequisite for everything we do thereafter. It qualifies one as a true steward and becomes a key element in how believers are kept in check.
Our forebear, Apostle Paul once said: I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:27 (NLT). This bestows on us a quest not only to know Christ and make Him known but to also exude the highest form of discipline as this is a core attribute that can aid in us living a life that ultimately honors God.
The Cambridge dictionary defines ‘discipline’ as “to carefully control the way that you work, live, or behave, especially to achieve a goal.” Therefore, it is not out of place that in 1 Corinthians 9:27, Paul likens our race to that of an athlete. Now, an athlete who wants to compete at the highest level of an Olympic event must first go through training. Training involves subjecting the body to all sorts of discomforts to meet a certain qualification criterion. If the climate and terrain set for the athlete to contest in is “unfamiliar territory,” he’ll need to put in extra work to adapt to this new terrain.
The athlete will need to be conscious about what he eats, what he drinks and sometimes even what he inhales. He’ll also need to keep to training times set by the coach. After going through all these, the athlete will, on the day of the event, be required to keep his emotions in check so as not to react unnecessarily and face sanctions or, worse, disqualification. We see how simple it sounds yet requires painstaking efforts to win. It’s no different in our Christian race, we have a duty to nurture an intimate relationship with the Lord and help others to come to this same realization.
To “win,” we need to keep the members of the body in check. We need to be disciplined – disciplined in every minute aspect of our existence. James talks about taming our tongues (James 3:5). Paul buttresses with what the mouth must speak when he admonishes us: nothing foul, but only what will build others up (Ephesians 4:29). David reaches for the heart and enjoins people with like passion on what needs to be kept in there so that we do not sin against the Omniscient Creator. (Psalm 119:11). Jesus warns of the need to prune any member of the body that causes you to sin (Matt 5:30) and in Philippians we learn of the Power that works in us and enables us to please God.