But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV)
The experts say it takes twenty one days to form a habit. After reading this, you may think, “Just 21 days of waking up early to read my Bible and then it will be easy!” Many others have thought that way too, but it doesn’t work like that.
Spiritual self-discipline isn’t a pursuit that we simply force into habit; for if that were the case, there would be little need for the Holy Spirit in our lives. Remember Galatians 5 then, self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. We wouldn’t have it without the Spirit as it His gifting and work in us. This realization begs the question then: How do we become more self-disciplined in our spiritual lives?
Consider what Jeff Iorg puts forth in his book The Character of Leadership, “No fleshly effort will please God or build true discipline. Self-discipline refers to self as the object of discipline rather than its source. Even though discipline is learned, and self is the object of the discipline, the motivation and power to develop discipline comes from the Spirit.”
In order to become self disciplined, we need to stop trying to take on the Spirit’s role as the source of life-changing power and rely on the strength He will faithfully work in us. Paul told Timothy to be strengthened by the Grace of Jesus (2 Timothy 2:1). If our motivation isn’t coming from the Holy Spirit, then we will continue in vain and fail in the practice of self-discipline. Our motivation will be of an eternal scope when we press into the Holy Spirit, and He will give us the strength to “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to motivate and sustain you in the practice of self-discipline.