Spiritual Discipline is Still Important

Spiritual Discipline is Still Important February 15, 2024

A person who’s been burned by legalism is likely to associate any talk of discipline or growth with past pain. For many, it has become a trigger point. Those who live for years under a burden of obligation, and who then discover they have been doing so needlessly, tend to embrace the message of grace with open arms.

I get it – I was legalistic for years in my youth, believing that sin (which I had no sensible understanding of at the time) created a block between God and I, resulting in frantic begging for forgiveness. In terms of spiritual discipline, I followed a punishing routine of prayer and Bible study over the course of several years, desperately trying to please God. If I’d known he was already pleased with me, that pressure would have dissipated like smoke on the wind, but I was yet to know the unconditional love of God.

I understand why believers who’ve been burned by legalism have a knee-jerk reaction to any suggestion of re-engaging with spiritual discipline, but that doesn’t ultimately serve us or anyone else. If we want to lead full, satisfying lives in the service of love, we need to embark on journeys of healing and restoration, which are only possible when we treasure the company of God.

A commitment to discipline, which may once have stemmed from a lack of confidence in God’s unconditional love, feels entirely different once we’ve embraced our identity in Christ. We’re no longer doing something because we have to or out of fear; we’re doing it because we want to grow. We’re doing it because love calls us forward. There’s no compulsion; only empowerment.

Once a month, Patheos publishes one of my articles via a route which bypasses my blog, so I share the articles here for everyone else. Here’s the full article on the topic of healthy spiritual discipline.


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