Yesterday, I had the privilege of continuing our “To Be The Church” sermon series at Harbor Church with a message on “Discipline.” All Christians want to grow to be more like Jesus, but few want to do the work (or understand how to do the work) of discipline in order for the Spirit of God to do the work of transformation.
Throughout Scripture we see the call to grow in maturation and sanctification hearing the words of Paul to the church in Philippi that, “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion on the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6) as well as his words to Timothy to “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness (1 Timothy 4:7). So how do we become disciplined disciples?
The answer is found in the mission and purpose of the Church. This is what Paul is encouraging and exhorting the church in Ephesus to see as their primary purpose and mission throughout the fourth chapter of his letter titled, “Ephesians.” Discipleship happens in the context of the church community where infants in Christ are being fed by the more mature in Christ as we look to Jesus as our Chief Shepherd and rely on the Spirit of God to do the work of sanctification and maturation in our lives.
As Christians, we need each other for this growth to occur. We need encouragement when the disciplines become a struggle and where the fruit of our transformation becomes difficult to see. We also need exhortation and accountability so that we would not allow these disciplines to become duties that are lifeless and rote that simply lead to self-righteousness. We need those who are maturing and eating solid food (1 Corinthians 3:1-3, 1 Peter 2:1-3, Hebrews 5:11-14) to help feed those who are young among us with spiritual milk until they are able to eat a fuller diet.
One of the books that has helped me grow in this area of discipline is titled, “Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life” by Donald S. Whitney. I would strongly encourage you to add it to your home library and to read it once every 12 to 18 months in order to evaluate your spiritual growth and to make new goals for where you want to see the Holy Spirit mature you in your walk toward Jesus and to adapt your current disciplines in order to see the Spirit bring about this growth. Here are the links to the book if you are interested in purchasing it.
What are some tools that have helped you grow in your spiritual discipline?