Our oldest son will be a senior in High School next year. Over Spring Break our family took a trip to the North Carolina and Georgia to tour colleges. By the fourth informational talk, which included information on admissions, school history, and how to pay the sticker shock price of tuition, my husband turned to me and said: “We have to stop spending money.” I laughed nervously and said: “I agree.” But what I was really thinking was: “You go first!”
There is a battle going on between my flesh and my spirit.
I know what is right, but I really prefer to do what is bad.
- My flesh says, “Don’t worry about the money. You deserve it. You rarely buy anything for yourself. Forget that new rug you bought yesterday, it was for the house. Go ahead, no one will know.”
- Discipline says, “Be patient, save the money, work hard and you will see the reward for you and your family in due time.”
Have you noticed that our feelings justify every desire we have? Emotion attacks us with a sense of urgency – I want, I feel, I have to have it…NOW! Retail therapy, the dessert we didn’t need, the exercise we skipped to watch a movie, the harsh words we said to our spouse because we thing they deserved it.
Telltale signs of our flesh are:
A need for comfort, impatience, pride, compromise, and selfishness. But Galatians 6:8 (NIV) tells us, “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”
Is discipline easy? No. If it were, our world would be an incredible place to live. Imagine it for a minute. People staying within their budgets, taking care of their bodies, withholding harsh words from loved ones, helping others instead of only helping themselves.
Discipline is hard. It takes the knowledge to know that you will fall down and the ability to get up again. Doing the right thing when it is hardest is the only way to achieve your goals.
Feelings tell you to skip the pain of discipline. For example: I would rather browse Facebook and Pinterest than write a budget today. But the outcome of that decision would make for serious consequences for the future of our family.
Pause here for a minute and identify the feelings that rule your decision making. Here are a few examples:
- I feel like…giving him a piece of my mind. (Anger, neglect)
- I want…and deserve that new outfit. (Fear, selfishness, comparison)
- I must have…chocolate cake to make me feel better. (Sadness, emptiness)
Negative emotions are not wrong in themselves. They are only wrong if acted upon.
If we can get past the surface level of living based on how we feel, we will have success. The good news is, the harder the challenge, the more you are growing! Discipline creates character. Character creates more life opportunity and blessing.
No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening–it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way (Hebrews 12:11 NLT).
Thankfully, we are not in this struggle alone. If we were, we would fail. God guarantees us help in our struggles. There is a still small voice inside of you that will ALWAYS give you an option outside your feelings. An option for blessings and abundant life.
Keep listening for the “still small voice” If you are weary on life’s road; The Lord will make your heart rejoice If you will let Him take your load. —Hess
Creating the world we imagined earlier can happen. We can live deeply blessed, abundant and victorious lives.
How do we do this? Remind yourself daily that you have a destiny to fulfill. You must simply choose discipline over emotion.
Paul gave us the tools to do this when he said:
“I face death every day–yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:31 NIV).
Paul is not talking about physical death. He is talking about the death of his flesh, the death of his selfish desires. Notice, it was not a one-time prayer, it was every day. That bring me comfort.
Each day we can follow in Paul’s footsteps by committing ourselves to prayer:
Lord, I ask you to take my self-willed heart and replace it with your Spirit-lead heart.
Everything you and I do will effect another human being. My world effects yours. When we allow ourselves to be ruled by our emotions, we lead our lives, our marriages, family, businesses, communities into disaster. Allowing the Spirit of God to lead our lives is what brings a blessed, abundant life and victorious life.