Explaining the essence of self-discipline
By Bill Holland
The attitude of our fallen human nature is not very nice; in fact, the word depraved is commonly used. Christians are required to honor God with self-discipline of their mind and to demonstrate His character, but sadly it’s rare to find any difference between God’s people and those who do not know Him at all. I’m sure you have noticed and are disturbed by the hatred and animosity we are seeing in the realms of politics and religion. The refusal to forgive others and carry resentment is no laughing matter and our good deeds cannot balance our rotten attitudes. First John 4:20 reminds us, “If anyone says I love God and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” Whatever our opinions and involvement with social media, we must restrain ourselves from hating others. Evil’s plan is to distract the Christian away from living in the peace of God’s presence and has convinced many that it’s acceptable to hate our enemies because God understands. Well, yes, His mercy endures forever, but He cannot go against His written word as that would compromise His integrity and we know His love is perfect. There are no special negotiations or under the table deals with God as Matthew 7:21-23 declares, “Not everyone that say’s to me, Lord, Lord, will enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? And in your name have cast out devils? And in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.” Only God’s amazing grace can save us and give our lives the meaning and purpose He intended. Being a loving person does not just happen naturally, we must realize that love is a learned behavior and failing to do so is a sin as He tells us in Isaiah 59:2, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear.” It’s true that practicing spiritual love involves treating others respectfully but helping someone is also not always the same thing as loving them. The love of Christ goes beyond practical thinking and the emotions and must come from within our spirit, including praying for those we do not like. The love that made you a citizen of heaven is the same love that makes it possible for us to share God’s love with others. We are to hate sin as God hates sin, but we also love every person as God loves them. How can we love those we do not agree with? Only when we fall deeply in love with Jesus will be able to understand that He loves everyone as much as He loves us. When we fail to love and be committed to God with all of our heart, we are demoting Him to a lesser position in our life. The Lord says that He is to be our greatest love, and it is our responsibility to be obedient to Him. “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” — Romans 5:5. “Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” — Matthew 22:35-40. First Corinthians chapter 13 talks about how loving all people is a requirement if we want to walk with God and without it, we will not have a positive spiritual impact in this life. When we neglect our spiritual calling to love, we are nothing and have nothing which is to be spiritually bankrupt. Let us take the time to examine our heart to make sure we are being controlled by the Holy Spirit and not our emotions.