The question is, who?
Randy Alcorn writes on the role self-control (or self-discipline) plays in our personal growth…
Every day we’re becoming someone—the question is, who?
Author Jerry Bridges, hearing me address this, told me that Dawson Trotman, founder of The Navigators, used to say, “You are going to be what you are now becoming.”
Who you become will be the cumulative result of the daily choices you make.
“A long obedience in the same direction,” to borrow a Eugene Peterson phrase, is sustained by the small choices we make each day.
Most of us know the difference between eating cottage cheese and donuts, or the difference between a daily workout and spending life on a couch. What I eat and whether I exercise will determine the state of my body.
The same is true of our spiritual lives. Whether I read Scripture and great books, or spend my best hours watching TV and looking at my phone, will make me into the person I will be several years from now. I should discipline myself today, not for discipline’s sake, but for the purpose of godliness (1 Timothy 4:7, 8).
Following Christ isn’t magic. It requires repeated actions on our part, which develop into habits and life disciplines.
Our spirituality hinges on the development of these little habits, such as Bible reading and memorization and prayer. In putting one foot in front of the other day after day, we become the kind of person who grows in Christlikeness.
Once we develop Christ-honoring habits and experience their rewards, we’ll instinctively turn our minds to what makes us happy in Christ.
A decade from now, would you like to look back at your life, knowing you’ve made consistently good decisions about eating right and exercising regularly? Sure. But there’s a huge gap between wishes and reality. The bridge over the gap is self-control, a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23).
The key to self-control is discipline, which produces a long-term track record of small choices in which we yield to God’s Spirit, resulting in new habits and lifestyles. In fact, Spirit-control and self-control are interrelated in Scripture, because godly self-control is a yielding of self to the Holy Spirit.
It’s true we are creatures of habit—but it’s also true Christ can empower us to form new habits.
So how can you start to make the right small choices?
Ephesians 5:15-16 tells us to “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time.”
Why not redeem two hours of your day that you would have spent on television, newspaper, video games, phone, working overtime, or hobbies? Change your habits.
Spend one hour meditating on and/or memorizing Scripture. Spend the other hour reading a great book. Share what you’re learning with your spouse and children, or a friend.
May we call upon Christ’s strength today to make choices that will honor Him, bring us great happiness, and help us become the kind of people we want to be ten years from now!
*Originally posted on the Eternal Perspective Ministries blog under the title “The Cumulative Effect of our Little Choices.”