Right before I sat down to write this post, I wanted to grab a handful of the semi-sweet chocolate chip morsels that I keep in my kitchen cabinet. I had just finished dinner, and I was overcome with a sudden urge for something sweet. Now today has been a good day for me. Once again, I accomplished my physical obligation to myself. This is the second day in a row I’ve exercised. I worked my abs, legs, and ran for a longer length of time today. All a win! I happily partook in my emotional/social pillar. I started my morning talking with my boyfriend then had lunch with two friends who celebrated their birthdays today. I even took a positive sidebar back to the physical during lunch when I chose to pass up the fries for an arugula salad. With my boyfriend this morning, I shared spiritual time. We read Psalms 51. I’ve revisited it this evening because as I went to grab that handful of tasty comforting chocolate I had to tell myself to say no, and then my brain said to me, why not write about self discipline and will!
Yesterday, I felt inspired (so inspired that for the first time ever I started a blog) to write. I literally feel that God led me to pick up a pen yesterday while I read 2 Samuel 7. There was something that He wanted to say, and it’s been getting out because yesterday and today have been about sharing the scripture and message I received with family and friends . . . Note to self: Think back. What am I doing for God? Today, the mental exercise of writing has not been so easy. My day has been different; the process slower. Still, a piece of what I’ve done today has been to revisit my devotional, Psalm 51, and what I discovered for myself has been pretty interesting.
When they say the Bible is the greatest book ever written, there is truth to that. At one point in my life I was a voracious reader. I read less today, but my favorites have always been stories filled with adventure and love. Before you get excited, Psalm 51 is not that story. Psalm 51 is a prayer of forgiveness requested by David. Now why does David need to be forgiven? — here is my *click*, my semi-sweet chocolate morsels of delight — because for a moment he grew weak in self discipline and will.
The context to Psalm 51 can be found in 2 Samuel 11. It’s a good read, a lustful story and its deceitful aftermath . . . Yes, in Biblical times too! Spring has sprung, David who is standing on in his rooftop sees a beautiful woman named Bathsheba taking a bath, and he simply cannot resist. Casting who she is, the WIFE of Uriah, to the wind, he sends for and sleeps with her. A momentary lapse of discipline can cause serious regrets. If you don’t already know this story, then you should prepare to raise your eyebrows here because the drama continues. This one slip in wise judgment causes Bathsheba to become pregnant with David’s child. Now what is David to do? After all he is the king and Bathsheba is married. You will have to read 2 Samuel 11 for the ending to that tale.
David committed adultery with Bathsheba. He sinned; and, in Psalm 51, he asks to be washed clean and to be made pure from his sin. David is literally broken when he presents himself to the Lord. In verse 17 he makes this assertion, “The greatest sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. God you will gladly accept a heart that is broken because of sadness over sin” (NIRV). Going to the Amplified Bible added additional meaning to the verse. The heart that is broken should be “contrite” and “thoroughly penitent” when being offered as a sacrifice to the Lord (AMP). I discussed this verse with my boyfriend this morning because it stuck out to me. It seemed to me that David was saying that the greatest sacrifice to the Lord is a broken spirit because I know the Lord is glorified when He repairs us. We have a testimony when the Lord fixes us and our situation. We speak to the glory of God. Reading the Amplified Bible, though, gives me more to see. God doesn’t just want us to be broken. He wants us to come to Him broken, not because of, but over the sins that we committed. Our hearts should be torn because of the wrong we did. We are to be affected by the guilt. Take David for instance, he comes to God broken in Psalm 51. All he wants to hear the Lord say is, ‘David, “your sins are forgiven” ‘ (v. 8 NIRV).
So what does this Psalm of forgiveness have to do with my will power? I say increase your will power by learning from David’s transgression. For me, succumbing to chocolate despair would have been gluttonous and it would have erased every bit of physical work that I worked for today. Strengthening self discipline requires proaction, and here is where we can learn from David’s Psalm.
In verse 3, David is conscious of the fact that he has sinned. He knows what he has done, and he knows that what he has done was wrong. Growing greater will power requires awareness. You have to think about what you are about to do before you do it and know that giving in to the temptation of whatever that thing is that you want at the moment is detrimental to the life you are trying to lead. Realize and remain strong. As the famous G.I. Joe quote goes, “knowing is half the battle.”
Having sinned, David asks God several times in this Psalm to make him pure and clean. Eating that chocolate today would have contaminated my body. Look at what sleeping with Bathsheba did to David. Thinking about the damage the chocolate would have done made it easier to say no. As you seek greater will power, think about the consequences giving in to temptation will have for you, your body, your journey, and your spirit. We will all have times when we will need to ask God to cleanse our hearts, but why not try to keep what has already been cleansed pure?
Finally, verse 10, “[. . .] Give me a new spirit that is faithful to you,” and verse 12, “[. . .] Give me a spirit that obeys you” (NIRV). Prayer is powerful in the midst of temptation too. Be faithful to God and strive to have a spirit that obeys Him. Pray for it, believe that God will answer your prayer, and carry that through. Exercise the self will to say no to feeding your weakness because nothing about feeding our temptations or giving up on a goal seems to be aligned with being faithful to God.
Discipline is hard, but I hope you find the inspiration to stay your course. The hard reality is that there will always be an area in your life in which you will need to exercise discipline, especially if you are pursuing something worth accomplishing, and so here is mine. I’ve successfully said no to the chocolate tonight, now to tackle what I’ve been putting off since yesterday . . . sit down and focus on applying for new jobs. Pray in the midst of weakness and be strong.