Our culture has trained us to expect instant gratification and overwhelming results for minimal effort. Fast food. High speed internet. Movies on demand. “The Easy Button.” We can even “Jump-start” our weight loss. We don’t like to wait. We tend to avoid hard work and long-term investment.
So why bother with practicing the spiritual disciplines? The disciplines require long-term commitment and hard work, exactly those things we tend to avoid. What in the world would be worth the time, discipline, and self-denial?
Fulfilling our God-ordained purpose is the overarching reason for practicing the spiritual disciplines. Before God even saved us, He determined that we should be conformed to the likeness of Jesus (Romans 8:28-30). That is God’s ultimate goal for us – to be like Jesus. He wants to refine us, shape our character, mold us like clay in His divine hands. Only God can cause this spiritual growth and transformation.
Only God can make us godly. But He demands and works through our obedient cooperation. Paul told Timothy to “train yourself to be godly” (1 Tim 4:7) and commanded the Romans to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom 12:2). The author of Hebrews warns us to “make every effort… to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14). In his book Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster comments on this spiritual truth.
“God has given us the Disciplines of the spiritual life as a means of receiving his grace. The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that he can transform us… By themselves the Spiritual Disciplines can do nothing; they can only get us to the place where something can be done. They are God’s means of grace… God has ordained the Disciplines of the spiritual life as the means by which we place ourselves where he can bless us.” Pg. 7
In addition to Christ-likeness, genuine pursuit of the spiritual disciplines yields other personal and exciting benefits. Foster elaborates on several:
- Spiritual depth – Foster says that “superficiality is the curse of our age.” Even Christians today lean toward shallowness. The spiritual disciplines take us beyond ourselves and the selfishness of our lives and plunge us into spiritual depths previously unknown.
- Freedom – Scripture tells us that when we die to self, we also die to the sin that enslaves. Obeying God through commitment to the Disciplines liberates us from the weight of “self” and frees us to serve Him.
- Intimacy with God – Through the disciplines we can experience and know God in ways and at levels not otherwise possible. They are the means of relating to God. Like Moses on the Mountain, we will be positioned to meet with God face-to-face.
- Joy – We will sense God’s pleasure with our obedience. We will live in the glow of His presence. We will find fulfillment in God’s purpose for us.
Are you ready? The beginning of a new year is a great time to make a new commitment to fulfilling God’s purpose for you!
Has your attitude about spiritual disciplines changed? Share your experience with us today.