How shall I prepare for this event? One option, that seems particularly appealing on a dark and cold winter’s morning, is to just turn up at the starting line in 20 weeks’ time and hope for the best. Sadly, I know what the outcome would be if I made that choice; I would not achieve my objective.
If I want to achieve my goal, I will have to train hard. Thankfully there will be many days when the training is a joy but on the days when it is raining, and I do not feel like running, I will have to get outside and run. During long training runs when my body is aching, and my mind is urging me to stop, I will have to keep going.
All the training would seem like cruel meaningless toil unless there was a purpose. However, there is a goal. By being disciplined in training and following the plan set out for me then there is every likelihood, but no guarantee, that I will complete that race in early spring.
For every believer there is a discipline that is of far greater importance and that is the discipline required for spiritual growth.
“discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily training is just slightly beneficial, but godliness is beneficial for all things since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7b-8 NASB).
God’s purpose, that will ultimately be fulfilled, is for every Christian to become like the Lord Jesus (Philippians 1:6) but He intends for us to grow towards it.
We are not merely to wait for godliness; we are to pursue it. We are to be disciplined as we strive towards that goal. Disciplined spiritual training will ensure a greater enjoyment of eternal life now and forever.
Unlike my physical training for a 50km race, the result of spiritual discipline is guaranteed and it will have a far greater reward.
In the coming days and weeks, we will publish some short articles on Spiritual Disciplines. If you implement plans of this kind and keep with them, you will benefit now and for all eternity.