Undisciplined living is blighting the church. Could you be part of the problem?

“One of these days I’m going to get it all together.”

“I wish I hadn’t lost my cool and said those things.”

“Sorry I’m late; I guess I’ve just never been very self-disciplined.”

How often have you heard—or made—statements like those? How many of us really have ourselves under control? Most people think they are in control, but are they really? Probably more are controlled by other people, by circumstances, by the mass media, by the distorted values of contemporary society.

Perhaps the best measure of who is in control is not our actions but our spontaneous reactions. How do you react when a driver tailgates you for miles, then passes and cuts sharply in front of you, nearly causing a collision? Do you honk the horn, shake your fist, and mutter (minced) oaths? If so, some stranger’s reckless, thoughtless driving has controlled you and determined your behavior. Do you respond in kind to surliness and harsh words? If so, you are more controlled by others than controlling. The Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “No person is free who is not master of himself.” And no person is master if he or she allows the actions of others to dictate reactions.

Ours is most assuredly an uncontrolled, undisciplined age—an age of self-indulgence. “If it feels good, do it,” and “If it works, do it again and again” are the prevailing mottoes. The seven deadly sins have become an accepted lifestyle. Many of the problems we face today—economic, environmental, political, moral—are largely attributable to the lack of self-discipline. Nor has the church escaped the blight of undisciplined living; perverted values, wasted time, dulled thinking, flabby bodies, and distorted emotions ...

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