I started reading Elisabeth Elliot’s Discipline: The Glad Surrender on a sick day and have been overwhelmingly convicted. I chose to start this book because I knew I desperately needed help with the topic of this book, discipline. God has been convicting me through scripture and He continues to through the truths and anecdotes from this book.
A few words can summarize the first six chapters: call, choice, obedience, faith, reward. I couldn’t help but include almost all my favorite (and most nerve-striking) quotes from the book.
God not only created me, He “created me with the power to disobey, for the freedom to obey would be nothing at all without the corresponding freedom to disobey.” This sounded so logical to me when I first read it. I never thought about my “free will” (in light of God’s sovereignty) in this way before. It’s logical because I have a choice before me: I can answer yes, or I can answer no. God reveals Himself to me through all that He has created. He has called me and a response is required. “Discipline is the believer’s answer to God’s call… We may choose to say yes and thus fulfill the Creator’s glorious purpose for us, or we may say no and violate it.”
When I made (and daily make) the choice to say yes to the call of God, that choice comes with the agreement of obedience to Him. If discipline is “the disciple’s ‘career’”, then obedience is one of the main tasks in the disciple’s work day. Obedience is a prerequisite as well. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) So anyone could choose to follow Christ, if they are willing to accept the conditions. A profession of faith can come easy. We imagine doing great things for God, but often times we forget the conditions the minute there is a trial causing discomfort or suffering. I know that I’m guilty of this every time I sin, every time I get annoyed when someone cuts me off on the freeway, every time I don’t get my way, etc. “I cannot be saved from my sins unless I am also saved from myself, so Christ must be ‘commanding officer’ in my life.”
John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” This verse reveals that obedience to God has everything to do with faith in God, and everything to do with whether I believe that He loves me to the point where He would send His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for me, bearing the punishment of all my sins, past, present, and future. “If deep in our hearts we suspect that God does not love us and cannot manage our affairs as well as we can, we certainly will not submit to His discipline.”
“When the will of man acts in accord with the will of God, that is faith. When the will of man acts in opposition to the will of God, that is unbelief.” I am reminded that God doesn’t force us to follow Him, rather He invites us. So when we choose to follow Him through obedience to Him, there shouldn’t be some expectation of reward or acknowledgment. In fact, it sounds strange to expect a reward just because you accepted an invitation to attend a marvelous banquet. “We do not see ourselves as at the disposal of the Lord. We expect appreciation. We would like at least a thank-you, and perhaps an approving little pat.” Do you ever think this way? I know I’m guilty of it every time I feel unappreciated or unacknowledged. But God tells us not to be people-pleasers. (Ephesians 6:6-8) “It is to the One who is in charge that we owe an account of what we do, not to spectators. When a servant renders service, it is merely what is expected. There is nothing out of the ordinary about it.”
I think the following passages in Ephesians help to summarize the relationship between these two words, and more importantly, why discipline is so important for a Christian.
Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to Man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the LordEphesians 6:6-8
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been calledEphesians 4:1
Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.Ephesians 4:22-24