Adapted from Discipline and Discovery by Albert Edward Day
Nothing will help us more to make spiritual disciplines what they ought to be than a continuing remembrance of Jesus. He was the most wisely disciplined person in history. Name the disciplines one by one. Then recall his perfect illustration of their meaning and purpose:
Obedience: “Not my will be done” – “my meat and drink is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” As Paul Tillich said, Jesus lived in unbroken unity with God and yet sought nothing for himself by that unity.
Simplicity: He lived simply – “foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head”; there was no effort to make an impression – he refused the spectacular, he spoke the language of the people; there was no pose of any kind; he kept silent when he did not know the answers – “of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son”
Humility: He said “Why do you call me good: No one is good but God”; “take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart.”
Frugality: “How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God”; “for our sakes he became poor that we through his poverty might be rich”; “man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”; “those who wear soft raiment are in kings’ houses.” Frugal in food, he fasted long days in the wilderness. Frugal in sleep, he spent whole nights in prayer alone with God. Frugal in personal relationships, he loved people but could get along without them if his truth offended them.
Generosity: He gave everything to God. His days and nights, his dreams and deeds, his labors and his life itself, were God’s. He gave himself to people, sharing with them his truth, ministering to their souls, healing their sickness, listening to their questions, “for many were coming and going and there was no leisure even to eat.” The Bible says, “he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.”
Truthfulness: Even his enemies had to say, “we know that you are true. . .you do not regard the position of men but teach the way of God.” Deceit, evasion, double-talk, ambiguity, exaggeration, flattery, guile never appeared in his life even when they would have given advantage to his selfless cause.
Purity: Not even a look in the direction of evil, no mixed motives, no service adulterated by sly self-interest, nothing that did not fit the concept of God-likeness. He not only said, “Blessed are the pure in heart,” he was pure in heart.
Charity: Every quality of life that good usage names charity was Christ’s in abundance – gentleness, graciousness, quick forgiveness, bountifulness, courtesy, self-sacrifice, universal goodwill, channeling God’s love toward all people – of all this Jesus was the perfect incarnation.
Nor were all these superlative qualities of life sheer native endowment. They were his because God was in him, true! But God was in him because he did what the rest of us must do – by dedication and discipline keep one’s life open to God.