Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Ye Gates Lift Up Your Heads"1 (Lyrics)
Dad was a master disciplinarian with a large repertoire of manoeuvres. Among them, his favourite: a haircut.
I was a baldheaded child, and as I surpass mid-life, I am reliving my childhood. But there was a time when I could grow hair — more than my father was comfortable with. If I wanted to fit in, I had little choice. I was a child of the seventies and the hippie generation. Though my hair never crept below my shoulders, it snuggled near them — until I infringed upon one of dad's critical rules. Then I was conveyed to the place I despised: the barbershop.
Dad disciplined because I needed discipline. His discipline also helped clear my conscience. He is "the God I serve with a clear conscience" (2 Timothy 1:3a NLT). The writer to the Hebrews says his audience was also undisciplined:
Hebrews 5:12 – You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God's word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. (NLT)
Our sinful nature makes God's discipline critical. Effective spiritual disciplines help rein in our bent to be bad, like the threat of a haircut made me consider unwise behaviour before I engaged in it. Communion with God disciplines us toward obedience. Had Adam and Eve waited until evening to consult with God before eating the forbidden fruit, life would have changed for them and us. The story is old, but there's nothing better to replace it with. Healthy spiritual disciplines include regular prayer, consistent Bible study, active listening to God's Spirit, collective worship, and regular association with others who share our faith. These disciplines won't make us perfect, but forays into rebellion are less likely when they're a customary part of our day. Are there disciplines that you need more discipline in?
Prayer: Merciful Lord Jesus, may the spiritual disciplines of our life discipline us to walk in a closer relationship with You and foster more consistent obedience to You. Amen.