The "D Word"

It's a dirty word in most circles. In recent days I've been reading Elisabeth Elliot's book about it. It has nothing to do with child-rearing or spanking, and everything to do with oneself. Discipline.

I want to share the high points of what I've read with you, in order that it might challenge you, as well as remind me of this excellent book, "Discipline: The Glad Surrender." I will try to limit myself, but this book is rich with lessons for today's convenience-driven, and often undisciplined, woman. It's a long post, but let me encourage you to take the time to thoughtfully read through the points she makes; it will be well worth your time.

She challenges us: "
Christian discipline means placing oneself under orders. It is no mere business of self-improvement... The disciple is one who has made a very simple decision. Jesus invites us to follow Him, and the disciple accepts the invitation."

2 Corinthians 5:15 tells us that the reason Christ died for us was not to make us good church attenders, or to have a few people teach a class or join the choir, but "that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised." Living for Jesus as His disciple may include these good things, but doing these things does not make us disciples. I'll go section by section and share with you some of the ways that Mrs. Elliot challenged me.

"Christians ought to watch what they eat... I do not refer here only to overeating, which is a bad thing, but to eating the wrong things."

"Gluttony, one of the more obvious modern sins, is generally tacitly accepted. Little is said about it from the pulpit. It is too embarrassing; it gets too close to where the people, often including the preacher, live. No one who is fat dares to preach about it- he has no room to talk. Seldom will one who is not fat have the courage to broach the subject, for he will be told he has no business to talk since he has 'never had a weight problem.' Who then is left to talk?"

"Sleep is another necessity... my father had a ready answer for those who expressed incredulity at his 'ability' to get up so early in the morning: 'You have to start the night before.' "

"To offer my body to the Lord as a living sacrifice includes offering to him my sexuality and all that that entails, even my unfulfilled longings."

"The Eastern art of meditation is not, I believe, similar to Christian meditiation... Do not try to think about nothing. 'Set your mind,' Paul says, not, 'empty your mind.' "

"There is an admission of imperfection... that is not the same as genuine confession of sin. Instead, it smacks of the wish to be one with the crowd rather than one with Him whom the world hated."

"The wordly mind says, 'Look, I'm human. Don't expect me to love that woman, not after what she did to my family. It's impossible.' The word of Christ is, 'Love your enemies. Do good to them that hate you.' This is indeed impossible, as it was impossible for Peter to walk on the sea, until he obeyed the command."

"I have found it necessary sometimes deliberately to refuse thoughts of what someone has done to me and to ask for help to dwell on what Christ has done for that person and wants to do for him and for me, for I am sure that my treatment of people depends on how I think about them."

"There is a common belief that a frank expression of what one naturally feels and thinks is always a good thing because it is 'honest.' This is not true. If the feelings and thoughts are wrong in themselves, how can expressing them verbally add up to
something good?"


"Much sickness -physical, mental, and emotional- surely must come from disobedience. When the soul is confronted with an alternative of right or wrong and chooses to blur the distinction, making excuses... it is exposed to infection. Evil is given the opportunity to invade the mind, the spirit, and the body..."

"Christianity teaches righteousness, not rights. It emphasizes honor, not equality. A Christian's concern is what is owed to the other, not what is owed to himself."

"Gert Behanna
[in a talk given long before the women's liberation movement began] asks women who hate housework if they would be willing to iron a shirt or cook a meal for Jesus. To make any kind of service, no matter how menial, an offering to Him puts a whole new light on it."

"Children must receive due honor... The rights of children include being cared for physically, spiritually, and mentally, but surely do not include the right to be heard i
n matters they know nothing about or to be treated as equals with parents and teachers. To grant them that right is to wrong them."

" 'My times are in Thy hands.' Quite often they seem to be in other people's hands. When I wish for solitude and no interruptions, the phone rings, people come, mail arrives that demands immediate action. Do I imagine that the interruptions come as a surprise to the Lord? Are they not, just as much as the planned things, a part of the pattern of things that work together for good?"

"He took time to rest... Still He was able to make that amazing claim, 'I have finished the work You gave me to do.' This was not the same as saying He had finished everything He could possibly think of to do or that He had done everything others had asked. He made no claim to have done what He wanted to do. The claim was that He had done what had been given."

"There is always enough time to do the will of God. When we find ourselves frantic and frustrated, harried and harrassed and hassled, it is a sign that we are running on our own schedule, not on God's."

"Many busy Christians find they must schedule "free" time- time to be quiet, to read books, to be with family. ...There is nothing dishonest about telling someone, 'I'm sorry. That evening is not open.' If it has been set aside for quietness or for family, it is not open to other activities."

"Because God gives us things indirectly [by enabling us to make them, receive them as gifts, or earn money to buy them], we are prone to forget that He gave them to us.
'...What do you possess that was not given you? If then you really received it all as a gift, why take the credit to yourself?' (1 Cor. 4:7) "

"The most overwhelming losses of my life, those that I feared most, have in fact been, '...far outweighed by the gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord...' I cannot demonstrate it logically or scientifically... I would say with all my heart to others, 'Do not be afraid. The gain will outweigh everything.' "

A test [for measuring your attachment to possessions]: "How do you respond when your possessions are damaged, destroyed, stolen? Are you willing to be defrauded? Are you worried about what belongs to you? Are your fists clenched or are your palms open? Who is your master- God or money? What are you running after?"

"We often say that what is ours belongs to Christ . Do we remember the opposite: that what is His is ours? That seems to me a wonderful truth... if it is so, how can we really 'lose' anything? How can we even speak of His having the 'right' to
our possessions?"


"There is no such thing as Christian work. That is, there is no work in the world
which is, in and of itself, Christian. Christian work is any kind of work, from cleaning a sewer to preaching a sermon, that is done by a Christian and offered to God."

"Does God ever ask us to do what is beneath us? This question will never trouble us again if we consider the Lord of heaven taking a towel and washing feet."

"It is the one for whom a job is done who gives it its meaning. ...When I remember to look up instead of around me and to offer the work to the Lord, it [is] much easier and more pleasant."

"Note that self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit. Here is evidence again of man's responsibility to cooperate with God in His work. It is not all "Spirit control." Self-control is essential."

"Obedience to God is always possible. It is a deadly error to fall into the notion that when feelings are extremely strong we can do nothing but act on them."

"Let us be honest in recognizing feelings and honest enough to reject them when the
y are wrong."

"Do not debunk feelings as such. Remember they are given to us as part of our humanity. Do not try to fortify yourself against emotions. Recognize them... and then lay them open before the Lord for His training of your responses."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I hope these words challenge you as much as they challenge me. Part of Titus 2 is our willingness, as younger women, to learn from older Godly women. Certainly Mrs. Elliot is one from whom we could all learn much.


Christina said...

This looks like a great book! Thanks for the review. I'll have to add it to my list of books to read.

Heather said...

I'll have to look out for this book the next time I'm at the bookstore! Every time I re-read one of Mrs. Elliot's books, I seem to find insights that I haven't noticed before. Your posting brought to mind Brother Lawrence's, "The Practice of the Presence of God." If you haven't read it, the short series of essays deals with offering your everyday, mundane work as your service to God.