I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the word DISCIPLINE. 

Let me make a distinction.  I have no problem initiating my own disciplines, which I see simply as habits to happiness.   But when DISCIPLINE arrives from outside of me, handed down and imposed, I squirm and feel guilty as though deserving of punishment.  Self-discipline sits differently. In fact, I remember a line from “Seventeen” magazine that went like this:

“(Self)-discipline is remembering what you want!”

The context spoke of how to stick to healthy eating habits and work-out routines.

But the term discipline, when spoken of in the Bible, jars me, reminding me of childhood spankings and the accompanying shame…. )

……hence my presumptuous proposal to substitute “training” for “discipline”.  Training feels more forward-looking since it often travels in company with a 3-letter pronoun, the word FOR.  As in, “I’m training for a marathon” or “I’m in training for 6 months to become a nail technician.”

Before you start criticizing my hermeneutics or saying that I’m changing the Bible to suit myself, listen to what I’m not doing…..

  • I’m neither using POOR logic as in the case of Representative Rob Portman who just this past week flip-flopped his OPINION of what the Bible says about homosexual unions.  Previously he had defended the traditional and Biblical definition of marriage.  Now he has chosen to broaden it because of his son’s circumstances.  He therefore has applied a Procrustean trick and made the Bible fit his desires:

Premise 1 – A loving God just wants us to be happy

Premise 2 – My son is happy with his gay partner

Conclusion – Therefore, a loving God must approve of my son’s pursuit of


  • Nor am I playing loosey-goosey in how I define the term ‘discipline’.  After all, the Latin root of the word discipline is discipulus which means student or follower. I’m just building on the original meaning – think the 12 disciples.

So, here is my thinking: IF God sovereignly sends/ allows…….  suffering….disappointments….frustrations, and IF God’s goal for ALL of His born-again covenant children is their sanctification or growth in holiness, and IF there is now no condemnation for those who are joined with Christ, and IF God is ‘totally for us’……then it sure makes the idea of discipline as training easier for me to swallow, accept and embrace with peace.  I can trust and flow with EVERYTHING that happens to me as part of God’s plan for my good.  Knowing that the painful stuff is not punishment, but TRAINING, meant to build my faith, increase my holiness, grow my readiness to flee to Jesus, lessen my grip on earthly pleasures and increase my satisfaction in God alone is a gift.

Remembering that scripture is the spoken (and written) WORD of God, let’s be assured by what God says through Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16-17:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for    correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man/servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for all good works.

It could be God delivered you of that rebellious streak when you were united with Christ, but I must still have it, if I’m chafing at a word usage.  If so, then I will watch and see how God changes my heart.

But in the meantime, I will submit gladly to the ‘blessed and only Controller/Sovereign’ who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (1 Tim 6:15) in whatever He plans for me.