Discipline My Body
Marybeth Whalen

"I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified." I Corinthians 9:27 (NLT)

As I shared with a woman I met about our family's journey out of $95,000 worth of debt, she posed a question that stumped me. "That's great that you guys did that," she said. "But do you really think that people out there are willing to do the hard work it will take to get out of debt?"

I confessed to her that I couldn't answer for other people. I could only share what we had experienced—what we knew worked. She responded that she thought people were looking for simpler, easier solutions than the arduous four-and-a-half year process we went through. I knew she was probably right.

Days later as I was struggling through the first mile of my run, I thought about her question and compared it to my lack of motivation to lace up my running shoes that day. I didn't feel like running. I didn't want to stop what I was doing at home and take time to go running. I didn't want to do the hard work. The phrase "I discipline my body" went through my mind. As my legs pumped and my muscles strained and my heart cried out for relief, I certainly understood what Paul meant when he wrote that verse.

As I ran, my mind cycled through the many other things in life that are worth doing, yet require us to "discipline our bodies" into submission to accomplish them. In some instances we must physically discipline our bodies. Taking care of ourselves, exercising, and making healthy eating choices requires resolve, sacrifice, and some hard work.

In other instances we must emotionally discipline our bodies. Choosing to honor our husbands, or our parents, with our words and attitudes requires a continual humbling process that our flesh rails against.

Still other times we must spiritually discipline our bodies. I am learning it's not enough just to say I want a close relationship with God. I have to "discipline my body" to pursue Him. This includes getting up early when my body wants to sleep longer so I can start my day by having a quiet time. And I can't say I want to live by His Word if I am not willing to spend time studying it, disciplining my body by foregoing my desire to veg out in front of the TV in favor of reading the Bible.

I am learning that most things in life that are worth doing aren't going to be easy. Yet my flesh—my lazy, insolent, ugly flesh—continually hangs onto the thought that it should be easy.

Sometimes my flesh wins out, I won't lie. But for the most part I am learning that when I make the effort to "discipline my body" I am always glad later that I did.

Maybe there's something that God is urging you to do that's going to require disciplining your body. Maybe you have resisted it because you don't want to go through that. From someone who understands that battle, might I urge you to take the time, and submit your body, heart and mind to the process? On the other side of your effort is a transformed life waiting to happen.

Dear Lord, I know that doing the right thing is not usually the easy thing. Help me to follow Your ways and not my own. Help me to commit to the changes I know I need to make in my life. And let me feel You guiding and encouraging me every step of the way. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Marybeth’s blog

Learning to Live Financially Free: Hard Earned Wisdom for Saving Your Money and Your Marriage by Marybeth and Curt Whalen

A Tip a Day: 12 Months Worth of Money-Saving Ideas by Ellie Kay

From Financially Frantic to Financially Free (CD) by Marybeth and Curt Whalen

Do you dread talking finances with your spouse? Click here for tips on how to have a smooth conversation.

Application Steps:
Write down in your journal one thing that you feel God has laid on your heart that will require "disciplining your body" to make it happen. Maybe it's taking better care of yourself or losing weight. Maybe it's doing the hard work and submitting yourself to the process of becoming debt free. Maybe it's recommitting to spending daily time with God—foregoing some sleep to make that happen. Whatever it is, pray about it and consider asking a friend to hold you accountable.

What does your flesh want? Is it the best thing for you?

How will discipline change your circumstances in the long run?

Power Verses:
Romans 8:13, "For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live." (NIV)

Galatians 6:8, "The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life." (NIV)

© 2010 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous LRF said...

Thanks for the devotion today. I need to deny the flesh more often. It is such a struggle between spirit and flesh. For me the battle is emotional & spiritual right now. I know you probably get lots of comments but if by chance you read this one (or if someone else does), I would ask that you pray for me in my battle but also especially today please pray as I am embarking on a new journey with some new doctors. I am going to be seeing specialists two hours away from home and I am scared and worried. In this case, my mind does not want to lean on Jesus. Instead my mind keeps wandering through all the "what if's" and even though this is just the first visit, I am scared of how many more I may have & how will I find people to watch my little children each time etc. Oh, gracious, I am even worrying while I write. I need to stop writing and pray, will you pray for me as well? Thanks again for the devo, and have a great day!

Blogger PattiS said...

I prayed for you, LRF. Start thanking God for His answer, He already has things planned for you. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Pray for me also.

Blogger Lauren said...

Philippians 4:6 :) Prayed for you too.
Grace and peace,

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear LRF,
It's going to be OK. You're in God's hands, and that is the best place to be. Praying for you!

Blogger Marybeth Whalen said...

LRF, we are all praying for you! I pray that just knowing that others are lifting you up will bring peace and encouragement to you today. Try to keep placing the situation in God's hands... even if you have to do it several times an hour!

Blogger Familyof6inTX said...

Thank you for this devotion. I have been trying to push God to do things my way because I haven't wanted to give in to the discipline I know I need from Him. I need to spend more time in His word and also be more aware of how I treat the body and life that He has given me.

Blogger Denise said...

This devotion is just what I needed, I have such a hard time with discipling my body. I want a closer walk with God, but it is easier to do the things I really want to do. I also need to lose weight and it is an ongoing thing with me. Thanks for the devotion.
LRF I will be praying for you, anything medical is a scary thing, but remember with God all things are possible. He took the stripes for our healing.

Anonymous Katrina Clark said...

Thank you God for the confirmation and the WORD! God knows I have struggles with the flesh at times and all yesterday I was restling and had prayed the scripture in Galatians about living by the spirit. Then I read it again and this morning just kept saying... If I live by the spirit I must keep in step with the spirit. And then to just receive this devotion is truley a blessings. Sometimes when I fall its like geez when can I get it together! And God always sends a word to confirm the thoughts and encourage me to take it one day at a time In step with Him! Thank you so so much for continuing to bless us!!!

Blogger Unknown said...

Dear LRF,
My heart aches for you. I will pray God will grant you peace and strength to deal with what ever you learn today. Lean on Him and not on your own understanding.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear God,
Thank you for the gentle reminder. Thank you that I did not leave without reading this and hearing from you. How amazing that you would hit on every single area of my life that is currently waiting to be attended to- financial, physical, and emotional. I know that I have promised so many things so many times and I start and stop and continually get discouraged over my lack of consistency. The crisi passes and I forget how I got passed it. Help me to reach for what I know you have for me. I heard you and I want to change. i want to be disciplined. Help me not to get discouraged, but to keep pushing and trying.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was such a great devotional! I was literally praying about being a slacker in my readings and prayer with God. I'm a marathon runner, so I know what it is to have control over the flesh -- "Mind Over Matter" is the only way to finish a race! I don't know why I forget this when it comes to being present with God. It is "Mind Over Matter" and the more I train, the better I'll get at doing this. Thank you so much for the reminder today -- it is all about the training. It is all about being in control. God bless you and your ministry!

Blogger im4god2 said...

Thank you Marybeth. I just wanted to say what an encouragement your devotional was to me. God loves to use people to speak to others just when they need it most and I can say I needed to hear him today. My husband and I are struggling with debt right now and I so often feel discouraged and hopeless by the weight of it on me. Your devotional helped me to see that God wants me to deal with the issue of discipline in my life or the lack thereof...I know I have a long rode ahead of me, but at least for today I am reminded of the truth that I am not on it bymyself. Thank you and God Bless.

Blogger Joan Davis (Jo) said...

I agree with the comments! Your posting was quite encouraging and was a confirmation that the hard work we are doing right now is so worth the result! Thank you.

Blogger Cindy said...

This is such a great devotion. I almost fell out of my chair when you mentioned waking up earlier for quiet time. I pray every day for more time to get it all done and in the same breath, I pray for more time with God. It's more about prioritization and discipline. Thank you for this encouragement to get up and spend even just a little more time with God!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh boy...this spoke to me. I want so badly to start getting up earlier to spend time in a morning devotion, before my teens wake up. But, I fight my alarm clock every day.

I think that for me, it boils down to desire. Do I REALLY want to get up? I need to explore how sincere I am. Am I just paying "lip service" to what I know I SHOULD be doing.

I'm a knitter, and people always tell me, "I could never learn how to do that," or "I don't have the time."

My response is that you make time for the things you want to do, and where there's a will, there's a way.

Thanks for a wonderful post.

Blogger Nikka said...

I read what you said. And I didn't bother to read to comments yet. I want to write first. I am struggling finacially. My husband has to travel away for school for the next 2 years and I am trying to stay in school so that Student Loan can help me pay the rent and take care of my five children. There are two of the children who were diagnosed with Autism and the damage caused by the first son is so unbearable to me. I don't understand God's love in a time like this. I don't even understand myself in a time like this. My eldest child is seven the rest are 5, 4, 3 and 1. Many people tell me that I could have made a choice not to have any more children but in all of this I thought God would have helped me to space them out but lo and behold I should have trusted the contraceptives more? I don't get it. I heard the word of God and it is a constant battle in my mind for I want to do what is right but I struggle even to pray. What a sad time to be in when I want to saved in the Kingdom of Heaven. My heart grieves and bleeds. Sometimes death seems better than life. I don't know what to do...well, I do know what to do but flesh doesn't want to do it. WOW! It was hard to confess that just now. But it is true.

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