The Discipline of Devotion


I noticed something recently for the first time in months.

Looking down at my Converse shoes, I saw “James 1:16-18″ written on the toe of my left shoe and “Philippians 2:12-13″ written on the toe of my right. I wasn’t surprised to see the writing there. When I buy a new pair of Chucks, I write two Scripture references on the toes as reminders to keep focused on what God is teaching me. I’ve been keeping that habit for almost as long as I’ve been wearing that style of shoe. What surprised me was that I couldn’t remember the last time the shoes reminded me of those verses. Although I wear those shoes more often than not, they had ceased to serve their purpose as reminders. What was meant to deepen devotion had become commonplace.

In 1 Timothy, Paul urges Timothy to train himself for godliness, contrasting such training with physical training (1 Timothy 4:7-8). Paul’s charge can be seen throughout his writing, as he calls the church to live out the faith, to flee from sin, and to glorify God. In all things, discipline is involved. Paul knows, as all who follow the Lord know, that Christians do not lazily drift toward godliness. While the Spirit works in us, sanctifying us through the Word, we also must work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-13).

Sadly, however, even our well-intentioned plans can become commonplace, falling short of the mark of true discipline. Abiding in Christ is not a passive pastime; we must pray for growth and discipline ourselves for godliness. Growth in godliness, like growth in health and physical strength, requires effort.

This week, I’m reminded of the need to discipline myself. I see my need for growth, and I admit my lack of focus, praying for God to work in me as I work out my faith. And in all things, may he be glorified in me.


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