Indulgence or Self-discipline?

When I was younger, there was a hepatitis outbreak on my college campus. Unfortunately, I was one of the young people to get it. Our family doctor recommended a diet regimen and rest for three months, giving my liver a chance to recover. At the end of the three months, he pronounced me well and told me that I could go back to my regular activities. The problem was, I was still tired. Tired all the time. I asked the doctor about it, afraid that I still had active hepatitis. He told me that I was fine, but that the inactivity had caused my body to feel tired. What I needed to do was ignore my tiredness and get active again. Do exercise. Get out. Eventually the tired feeling would disappear.

Often, we respond to symptoms or feelings rather than doing what we know intellectually (or spiritually) to be right or healthy. If we are angry or depressed, we indulge ourselves. The problem is, indulgence leads to more indulgence which leads to our being angry more because our expectations are wrong. As believers, we need to break the cycle, to step outside of responding to our feelings, and do what we know to be right based on the Word of God.

Proverbs 19:15
Laziness brings on deep sleep;
an idle person will suffer hunger.

“Laziness brings on deep sleep.” Times of inactivity or indulgence simply make us more tired, make us more self-centered, literally put our consciences to sleep. The opposite of laziness is self-discipline. Self-discipline creates a soul that is attuned to God’s will, sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Laziness (self-indulgence) creates a soul that is self-centered, resistant to God’s leading.

The problem is, the result of laziness is hunger. In the case of the laziness of self-indulgence, the hunger is spiritual. And spiritual hunger leads to spiritual weakness. Then, when the true attacks come, we are unable to stand under them because we are unfit . . . spiritually unfit. The time for self-discipline is now before the attacks come. We need to learn to pray, to study, to submit our wills to His. We need to cast off laziness and self-indulgence and wrap ourselves in the self-discipline that comes through walking every moment with the Spirit.