I think this can be a touchy subject for Christians. Maybe it has to do with the idea of grace and that we wouldn't want to make anyone feel bad, I'm not sure. Or maybe it has to do with living in the affluential West - we have no idea what it means to really suffer, go without, to be deprived of something. We want it, we got it, right?!
1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
For me, in view of food (my personal addiction, for you, it may be something else), I don't really want to think about sacrifice. Ick. Sacrifice? Not exactly a word we really think about much here in the U.S. Instead, I fall easily in to the "pattern of this world". Self-gratification. Not self-discipline, nor self-denying.
11All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
Ok, this one gets me. I am NOT a disciplined person. I have never been good at really "making" myself do things I didn't want to do. Lori doesn't want to do it, well then, Lori doesn't have to.
And when I *have* tried to make myself sacrifice, denied my flesh what it desires, it about KILLED me. I was definitely sorrowful. And over what? More food (pick your addiction)? What? Deny my what I want?? NOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooo......... (heavy sarcasm here)
Yet *trained*. If I work at it, allow the Lord to reign in my life, deny my flesh, I can have peace. Peace. Yet it's not automatic, just after one time of sacrifice. It's after you are trained, an on-going process.
23Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Deny myself? Huh? Hardly? Maybe here or there, maybe when I get up the motivation, the spurt of energy. But instead, the Bible tells me I must do this DAILY. Daily. I'm supposed to be in it for the long haul.
10Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:10
Weakness: I can't tell you how weak I feel when I do manage to try discipline in my life. I fail time and time again. I am distressed (more so as I grow in Christ). I struggle. I am so weak. I fail time and time again. Yet here it is: when I am weak - THEN I am strong. Through Christ, I am strong.
So that's where I am right now - struggling through what the Lord wants of me in regards to self-discipline. How can I lead a more disciplined life? I know I need to remember grace, forgiveness. I am a work in progress. I can see that progress over time. Yet as I grow closer to Christ, I also seem to see my own sins more clearly. As His light grows, it illuminates my faults more clearly. I can no longer ignore this in my life. I can no longer continue to give up, give IN to my flesh, and be okay with it. I'm not okay with it. I'm not.
I need to deny myself a bit more. In the grand scheme of things, this may not seem like such a big deal - I mean, come on. There are Christians in the world that are *truly* suffering. Truly sacrificing their lives. Yet this is me. This is my life. I too need to sacrifice....perhaps in this small way is where God wants me to start.
Well.....that was indepth. I got up quite early this morning (one of my areas that I need discipline in), actually a whole HOUR earlier than needed. I got confused. Yet the Lord met me here, in my mistake. Met me where I was and led me. Lord, please contine to lead me, continue to meet me where I am and guide me to more. I want that peaceful fruit of righteousness. Please Lord, I ask you to keep that hunger in my heart and my flesh under your control.
Thanks for listening - I just needed to get some of these thoughts out. God bless you and yours today~