Archives for posts with tag: fruit of the Spirit

As a child did you ever have your mouth washed out with soap because you said a “dirty” word? If so, those are not pleasant memories. Chances are pretty good that if you are reading this, you of an age when that is not going to happen again.

I have been thinking a lot about two dirty words lately. Actually there are three words but one of them is hyphenated. Are you ready? The words are “discipline” and “self-control.” They are not the kind of words that result in a soapy cleaning of the mouth but they are not among the favorite words of most folks.

Jennifer Cohen, says that “Self-discipline is the number one trait needed to accomplish goals, lead a healthy lifestyle, and ultimately be happy.”* While this may be true, discipline is something that most people find easier to impose on someone else than on themselves. It is not easy to exercise restraint over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires.

I tend to articulate more easily in verbal rather than written form. One of the problems, though, is that I can go on and on trying to make my point if I sense that the hearer is not getting it or if I am having a hard time finding the right expression. I can rightly be accused of often talking a lot and not saying much.

In an attempt to discipline myself I have taken on writing assignments with deadlines. It started with accepting the responsibility of writing a weekly newspaper column. The editor expected me to have it ready by Monday and it was not to exceed 500 words. The timeline pushed me to get it done and the limited space required that I carefully selected my words. In later years my job included a weekly e-newsletter with some of the same limitations. Thoughts for Thursday that you are reading right now is an effort to continue that self-discipline even though it is not a requirement of employment and there is no compensation.

My daughter and son-in-law and another family came from California to visit over the Labor Day holidays. We had a wonderful time and food was at the center of much of our enjoyment. When I weighed myself after they had gone I realized that I needed to get serious about the weight I had been gaining.

I decided to begin a routine of walking several miles daily. Three or four miles in the morning. Three or four miles in the evening. At least 4-5 times a week. In the beginning I was faithful to the commitment I made to myself. Then other things took too much of my time. One day it was raining. It was hot in the evening. Then it turned cool in the morning. There are so many excuses that make it hard to discipline myself to keep up the routine.

Of course, discipline is needed not only to make you do things you would rather not do. It also serves a preventive purpose. It is imperative to exercise self-control to avoid actions or thoughts that are harmful to us or to others. One of the definitions for discipline in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is “training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.”

John MacArthur asks the question, “Why is discipline important?” Then he provides an answer. “Discipline teaches us to operate by principle rather than desire. Saying no to our impulses (even the ones that are not inherently sinful) puts us in control of our appetites rather than vice versa. It deposes our lust and permits truth, virtue, and integrity to rule our minds instead.”

One of the most famous studies of self-control is known as “the marshmallow test,” which found that children who were able to resist eating one marshmallow—in order to be rewarded with two in the future—later showed higher academic achievement than those who had wolfed the treat down immediately. The study’s results seemed to indicate that self-control is an innate ability with wide-reaching implications for our lives, but later studies have suggested that our self-control actually changes significantly over our lifetime, and can be improved with practice.**

Self-control is a desirable trait for every person and is essential if one is to live an honorable and decent life. I wish that discipline and self-control were the “one and done” kind of experience but I know it is not. It is a lifelong effort. The Apostle Paul includes self-control (self-discipline) as one of the nine fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) that characterizes followers of Jesus. The good news is that we are not alone in this lifelong exercise. God is present and willing to help us.

Jamie Jenkins

* https://www.forbes.com/sites/jennifercohen/2014/06/18/5-proven-methods-for-gaining-self-discipline/#4367ccb23c9f

**Psychology Today

A friend recently had surgery and he told me that full recovery could take 6-12 months. Then he said, “I’ve got to find a ton of patience.” My reply was to assure him that I would join him in praying for patience. Then I asked jokingly, “Do you believe in miracles?”PatienceIt has been almost nine months since I had a fall and tore my rotator cuff. Seven months ago I had surgery to repair the damage. Physical therapy exercises have helped and I now experience only discomfort and soreness, not pain. I am able to perform simple functions that were complicated or impossible a few months ago. Tasks like putting on my socks, tying my shoes, scratching the opposite shoulder from the injured one, and feeding my belt through the loops behind my back.

I have made considerable progress but I am ready for this to be over. Patience is not one of my strongest character traits and I suspect I am not alone.

Dr. Robert Schuller is best known as an author, the founder of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, and the weekly Hour of Power television program. He espoused the philosophy of Possibility Thinking and suggested that “Inch by inch anything is a cinch.”  All it requires is patience.

Napoleon Hill says, “Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” While there may be some truth to that, I find it difficult to wait. To have patience. If Saint Augustine was right that patience is the companion of wisdom, then I can make no claim to being wise.

Patience Is Not The Ability To Wait, But The Ability To Keep A Good Attitude While Waiting

I understand that when we allow God to be in control of our lives one of the results is that we practice patience along with other “fruit of the Spirit.” We possess not only the ability to wait but we are not anxious and restless while we wait. The writer of the biblical Book of Hebrews admonishes those to whom it was written, “you have need of patient endurance to bear up under difficult circumstances without compromising, so that when you have carried out the will of God, you may receive and enjoy to the full what is promised” (Hebrews 10:36, AMP).

So, I will pray for my friend to have patience. I will also ask God to help me to do the same. Anyone else need to be included in my prayers?

Jamie Jenkins