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While writing the book, ‘Disciplines of a Godly Man’, R. Kent Hughes emphasizes on discipline. He argues, no one can claim an innate advantage because we are all equally disadvantaged. No one naturally seeks after God, no one is inherently righteous and no one is instinctively good. Therefore, for us to develop a godly character, we must learn how to train ourselves through discipline.
In an example, Hughes talks of an athlete who can be born with a strong body, a musician who can be born with a perfect pitch or an artist with an eye for perspective but success cannot be achieved only through being born with certain characters.
The athlete must remain committed to training and the musician must be committed to training. In all this, their discipline will be crucial. In fact, Hughes says, discipline is everything.
Hughes quotes the letter of Paul to Timothy in 1 Tim 4:7, which says, ‘train yourself to be godly’. He interprets the word ‘train’ in Greek, which means gumnos, which in English means naked. At that time the word gumnos (from which we draw the word gynasium) was used to refer to how athletes were running while naked to avoid being encumbered.
Just like the athletes who ran without being encumbered, so does Paul call upon Timothy to discard what could hinder him. In Hebrew 12:1, the author talks of throwing off what hinders us seeing we are crowded by a great crowd of witnesses. Paul is thus restating the words in Hebrew that discipline comes by throwing off the weight hindering us.
Paul goes on to explain, that everyone who competes goes into strict training. Training calls for discipline for an athlete to secure the prize.
Hughes goes on to say, ‘No manliness no maturity! No discipline no discipleship! No sweat no sainthood!’
Hughes concludes by asking, ‘can we really become disciplined men of God’? The question is rhetorical but it calls for real action not just an answer.
Read the whole book to get more details.