We live in a day and age of uncertainty. “What’s going to happen to the economy?” “Am I working at the right job?” “How is the chaos in the Middle East going to play out?” “Am I dating the right guy/girl?”
The questions go on and on creating a fog of confusion and doubt for the upcoming generation of men and women. Fortunately for us, however, God’s Word remains a steady source of unapologetic, unpolluted truth in the face of a dizzying culture that surrounds and engulfs us. God’s truth cuts straight to the point without pulling any punches or leaving the reader in a haze of confusion. This pointedness is especially helpful for the 24/7, full-throttle, ADHD generation that we have been brought up in where our attention span lasts about as long as a gallon of Blue Bell ice cream at a summer picnic.
This straightforward teaching is certainly evident when we read the short, three-chapter book of Titus. In the second chapter of this book, Paul, who through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit penned this letter to his understudy, Titus, systematically answered the question, “What does it look like to please the Lord in my season of life?” Paul covers all his bases – he begins with older men, shifts to older women, speaks to younger women, then finally addresses younger men.
In his instruction to older men, Paul lays out six commands that older men should follow (Titus 2:2). He gives the older women four commands (Titus 2:3) and the younger women six commands (Titus 2:5).
When it comes to younger men, however, the Lord boils the list down to one simple command – “…encourage young men to be self-controlled” (Titus 2:6, NIV). That’s it. There’s no long list of “do’s and don’ts,” just one command – be self-controlled.
Yet, while we can all agree that this command is simple to understand, I think we would all agree that being self-controlled is easier said than done. Let me use an illustration to explain what I’m saying: it’s easy to be self-controlled in your eating when you don’t have any junk food at home to tempt you. In that case there’s really no other option other than being self-controlled by eating healthy. It’s a whole different ballgame when you strive to be disciplined in your eating when your pantry is loaded down with chips, sodas, and sweets. Discipline just becomes a whole lot more difficult.
It doesn’t take too long to look around and realize that our world is loaded down with metaphorical chips, sodas, and sweets (i.e. sexual immorality, busyness, people pleasing, etc.) that beckon us to run after momentary pleasures rather than pursuing the LORD through a life marked by the virtue of self-control or discipline. To be disciplined spiritually means that we put our relationship with God above all else on a day-in and day-out basis. Simply put, discipline drives growth.
With that thought in mind, it’s easy to see why God stresses for young men to be self-controlled. We can binge on sermon podcasts, Hillsong worship, and Christian blogs all day long, but unless we are disciplined to regularly seek the Lord above all other distractions on a consistent basis, none of the other stuff will mater. Our spiritual walks will be withered like a thirsty flower on a hot sunny day.
Not only does discipline drive growth, it is also the foundation on which your future capabilities and potential is built on. If you’re not disciplined now as a younger man, how can God trust you with a wife, kids, and leadership roles at work or in the church? If you discipline yourself now through faithfulness in all areas of life, you’ll have the capacity to maximize your potential in the future. Knowing this is the case, God stresses self-control as the primary focus for younger men to zero in on. The Bible never said discipline is easy, it just says it’s worth it!
Ok, now that we know self-control and discipline are not just “important” but “essential” and “foundational” to our faith, how do we obtain this much desired discipline? Well, the good news is that as a believer you don’t have to strive to gain discipline but rather you simply tap into the disciplined nature that is already implanted within you.
What I mean by this is that when someone believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, Ephesians 1:13-14 tells us that that person receives the Holy Spirit as a permanent seal guaranteeing a right standing relationship with the Lord. The presence of the Spirit also brings along with Him His nature and characteristics. And what, exactly, does this nature consist of? “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV, bold mine). “You did not receive a Spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV, bold mine). When we walk in the Spirit by spending more time with the Father, we ooze more of His character which is consists of self-control and discipline.
So, young man, the question that begs to be asked is this: “Are you living a life of discipline that pleases the LORD?” Or maybe a better way to put it: “Is your daily pursuit of God causing His Spirit to become more and more evident in your life?”
This disciplined, God-fearing young man is the type of man that parents long to raise, older men long to disciple, and younger women dream about marrying. Even more importantly, a disciplined young man is the type of man that the Lord loves to work in and through.
Are you living a disciplined life?
Grant Gaines is the Dean of Men at the Kanakuk Institute.