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Why bother?

January 5, 2011

Our culture has trained us to expect instant gratification and overwhelming results for minimal effort. Fast food. High speed internet. Movies on demand. “The Easy Button.” We can even “Jump-start” our weight loss. We don’t like to wait. We tend to avoid hard work and long-term investment.

So why bother with practicing the spiritual disciplines? The disciplines require long-term commitment and hard work, exactly those things we tend to avoid. What in the world would be worth the time, discipline, and self-denial?

Fulfilling our God-ordained purpose is the overarching reason for practicing the spiritual disciplines. Before God even saved us, He determined that we should be conformed to the likeness of Jesus (Romans 8:28-30). That is God’s ultimate goal for us – to be like Jesus. He wants to refine us, shape our character, mold us like clay in His divine hands. Only God can cause this spiritual growth and transformation.

Only God can make us godly. But He demands and works through our obedient cooperation. Paul told Timothy to “train yourself to be godly” (1 Tim 4:7) and commanded the Romans to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom 12:2). The author of Hebrews warns us to “make every effort… to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14). In his book Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster comments on this spiritual truth.

“God has given us the Disciplines of the spiritual life as a means of receiving his grace. The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that he can transform us… By themselves the Spiritual Disciplines can do nothing; they can only get us to the place where something can be done. They are God’s means of grace… God has ordained the Disciplines of the spiritual life as the means by which we place ourselves where he can bless us.” Pg. 7

In addition to Christ-likeness, genuine pursuit of the spiritual disciplines yields other personal and exciting benefits. Foster elaborates on several:

  1. Spiritual depth – Foster says that “superficiality is the curse of our age.” Even Christians today lean toward shallowness. The spiritual disciplines take us beyond ourselves and the selfishness of our lives and plunge us into spiritual depths previously unknown.
  2. Freedom – Scripture tells us that when we die to self, we also die to the sin that enslaves. Obeying God through commitment to the Disciplines liberates us from the weight of “self” and frees us to serve Him.
  3. Intimacy with God – Through the disciplines we can experience and know God in ways and at levels not otherwise possible. They are the means of relating to God. Like Moses on the Mountain, we will be positioned to meet with God face-to-face.
  4. Joy – We will sense God’s pleasure with our obedience. We will live in the glow of His presence. We will find fulfillment in God’s purpose for us.

Are you ready? The beginning of a new year is a great time to make a new commitment to fulfilling God’s purpose for you!

Has your attitude about spiritual disciplines changed? Share your experience with us today.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2011 9:26 am

    Thank you, Kathy, for this encouragement. I love the truth that the Disciplines can lead us into a greater grace.

  2. January 5, 2011 9:34 am

    In reading through the earthly life of Jesus this December, I was reminded of how He practiced spiritual disciplines. Though He was God, He was flesh and modeled regular patterns of godly habits. What a challenge to me in my own “100% human” walk.

    • January 5, 2011 9:44 am

      Julie, isn’t that true! If Jesus needed them, how much more do we?

    • January 6, 2011 2:58 am

      Awesome point, Julie! Christ continually remains the perfect example, doesn’t he?

  3. January 5, 2011 10:22 am

    Love the paragraph about how God makes us godly, but we must be part of that work. This life-long process of sanctification is a partnership!

  4. January 5, 2011 1:12 pm

    Love that when we walk in the Disciplines, we are walking in a place where we can grow in grace!

    • January 5, 2011 6:12 pm

      Ashley, that is definitely where I want to walk. Just have to keep getting past my lazy flesh!

  5. Janet Valentine permalink
    January 5, 2011 1:27 pm

    Thank you, Kathy, for reminding us at this new year time what is required to walk the walk and talk the talk. God doesn’t leave us with instruction. He also doesn’t leave us without the power source to bring about the correction and discipline needed.
    What a might God we have –

  6. January 5, 2011 5:42 pm

    TThe challenge to go deeper in God and not the easy path is something that has been stirring in many things I have been “coming across”. thank you for the encouragement to avaoid the easy and go the eternal.
    In His Grace,
    C

    • January 5, 2011 6:13 pm

      I love the way God tells us the same things over and over when He wants to make sure we get it! That too, is grace!

  7. January 6, 2011 2:56 am

    This resonates with me, too: “Only God can make us godly. But He demands and works through our obedient cooperation.” This godly purpose is not a stick-back-and-let-it-happen one. Action is needed. Faith itself requires the actions of trust and obedience.

    “The spiritual disciplines take us beyond ourselves and the selfishness of our lives and plunge us into spiritual depths previously unknown.”

    Let us always be willing to take the plunge!

  8. January 10, 2011 10:21 pm

    I’m a little late to the party, but I’m diving in! Such excellent things for me to chew on here and take to the mighty throne room of God to help strengthen me in this area. Thank you, gals!

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