2 Timothy 1:7
“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”
I was reading this scripture the other day, and the word discipline jumped off the page. If I’m honest, that’s something I could definitely use more of as I try to be an effective steward of my time.
What can we learn from this passage about the idea of biblical self discipline?
A Closer Look at the Text
The original Greek word translated as discipline in verse 7 only appears in the bible this one time. The word is sophronismos, which is closely related to sophron, meaning of sound mind (taken from sozo meaning to save and phren meaning thinking).
So the idea of biblical self discipline in verse 7 is having a sound mind – thinking the right thoughts.
Take a minute to let that sink in. What an insightful perspective.
Thinking vs. Doing
So often we look at self discipline as when we correctly act. Discipline is running every day at 5 AM. Discipline is having a regular daily quiet time. Discipline is making an hour of sales cold-calls when everyone else is going home.
But what this verse shows us is that the way to biblical self discipline is not found simply in doing, but in the thinking behind the action. The “spirit of discipline” that we’ve been given is one of a sound mind leading to sound action.
The Power of a Sound Mind
It makes sense when you think about it. If our minds processed choices like a computer, realistically calculating the advantages and disadvantages of our options – wouldn’t our lives be incredibly disciplined? Our sound mind would easily lead us to the correct decision. When we contemplated the choice of getting up to exercise or hitting the snooze button, our computer-brain would crunch some facts and figures and decide that the benefits of exercising made it the wiser choice.
But instead we so often focus on our love of comfort, our fear of pain, or our unease with change. Many times we make choices that are just plain stupid. Maybe it’s a “minor” thing like choosing to procrastinate – or a major thing like deciding to have an affair.
We don’t make decisions with a sound mind.
The Holy Spirit imparts us with this sound mind that Paul speaks of. When tempted with an immoral act, the Holy Spirit counsels us with the implications of what we’re contemplating.
The same Holy Spirit can give us this sound mind in other areas of our life where we need discipline. We consciously remember the effects of our small choices on our goals. We understand the benefits and drawbacks of our options.
We live with discipline because we think with discipline.