Proverbs 12:1 “Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.”
To me one of the best definitions of discipline is: doing what we know we should do whether we feel like it or not. Martyn Lloyd Jones said: ‘Discipline is an absolute essential in the Army; it is one of the most important things of all. If an army is not disciplined it is already defeated; it becomes a rabble.’
To be strong in the Lord and the power of His might we need practice. How true it is that practice makes perfect. We need exercise to be active, because if we are idle we are in a dangerous position. We see this with King David in 2 Samuel 11:1 “In the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent out Joab and his servants with him and all Israel: and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Ramah. But David remained at Jerusalem.” David was idle and we see the consequences of this.
2 Peter 1:5-6 describes the activity that we should be involved in. We are to give all diligence, which is an exhortation to us that means we are to give full attention to what follows; to be constantly in it; to apply ourselves to it. When we accept Christ, a seed is planted within us and we must nourish and feed this seed to see its fruit produced, the fruit of the Holy Spirit. To do this takes discipline. No wonder Billy Graham said: “The secret to the Christian life is discipline.”
Peter goes on to say that we are to add, or supplement, or to furnish what is needed to work out this salvation that has been planted within us. So, to our faith we are to add virtue. This brings out the idea of vigor, moral energy. Sometimes the best way to understand a word is to see the opposite. Do not be lethargic; do not do things half-heartedly or be half asleep. Too many Christians are like what Charles Lamb described: “We have the mumps and measles of the soul.” We are too sickly.
To virtue we add knowledge which speaks about insight and understanding and the more we understand about the Christian truth the stronger we are.
To knowledge we add self-control. We become stronger in the Lord when we learn to control ourselves. Another way of putting this is conservation of energy. By reserving our energy from doing meaningless and sinful things, we become stronger in the Lord doing His will. We lose our energy when we lose self-control. See a man filled with rage and we see the energy that he is losing or wasting and has no ability to deal with the enemy. We are told in Proverbs 16:32 “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”
Brilliance or personality alone will not carry us through to success; we must have discipline. If you want men to follow you and to get the best out of them, you must control your temper. If you cannot control your temper you cannot control your men.
We are to add to self-control perseverance. This means patient continuance (waiting). It takes time and trouble to control oneself. No one does it for you (yes, we have the help of the Holy Spirit), but it is like Peter says – we are to add. This brings out the idea of going on. So many of us we quit when things do not work out the way we want or when we meet obstacles. We are to KOKO (keep on keeping on). He who watches the wind never harvests, he never sows – because he is always hesitating, wondering, etc. Yes, there will be hindrances, obstacles, disappointments, opposition and persecution, but we patiently go on.
Next, we are to add godliness. Here we see something different. We see ourselves in our relationship to God. This brings out the idea of being conscientious – walking in the sight of God. The Bible states that Enoch walked with God. This is godliness when we are aware that we are living in the very presence of God. It is like what God said to Abraham: “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.’” Genesis 17:1
To godliness to add brotherly kindness which brings out our relationship to others. There are many weak Christians and one of the chief causes of their weakness is that they do not love their brethren. They waste much of their time and energy in thinking harsh or hateful thoughts about other people. This drains their energy. John says that we know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. Love is a proof of our life in Christ.
To brotherly kindness we add love. The word is agape and this is the love that only God produces. There is a difference between liking someone and loving someone. There are many hateful things about others, but we are to love them as Christ loved us.
To be strong in the Lord we must remember that “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” We need to learn how to use the Name of the Lord. We see this with David coming against Goliath, and Elisha taking over from Elijah and shouting, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah.” Or Peter saying in Acts 3:6, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” The Christian fights, but he trusts in the Name, he invokes the Name and he is made strong by the Name of the Lord, and so he is “more than a conqueror.”
Bottom line in all of this: “For if these things abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In this great battle being fought between God and Satan – good versus evil – men and women who have these virtues abounding in them will be a great light in a dark place pointing others to the LIGHT of the LORD. With all of the hate along with difference of opinions being expressed and pushed, and with judgmental attitudes – we need to see the children of God being manifested. “Blessed are peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.” Matthew 5:9