Discipline seems like a hard word, but discipline is your lifeline, something that you learn to embrace and thank God for as you grow in him. The apostle Paul links the idea of discipline with spiritual life: “Train yourself for godliness”—referring to a spiritual workout— for “godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Tim. 4:7–8). A Christian woman’s life is about bringing her will and every area of her life under submission to God’s will.
1. Discipline of the Gospel: The Source of Godliness
“Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3). To be a godly woman you must know what this gospel is, believe it, and make it the center of your life. Never lose the wonder of the gospel. John 3:16 is not only a beautiful summary of what God has done, it ought to be the true center of our living—defining, motivating, and satisfying us. The gospel is a woman’s first and most important discipline, for it is the source of godliness.
2. Discipline of Submission: The Posture of Godliness
It saddens me that submission has been eliminated from our cultural vocabulary. Bringing our lives into submission to God’s will in everything is the key to being a godly woman (Phil. 2:8–11). It is also the path to joy. Submission applies to every area of our lives, and we begin by restoring the gospel to its rightful place at the center of our thoughts and deeds every day. It’s an ongoing, daily choosing of God’s ways over our own ways (James 4:7–10; Heb. 12:9). Is the will of God more important than our lives (Luke 9:24)?
3. Discipline of Prayer: Submission’s Lifeline
Pray “at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Eph. 6:18). Prayer is the source of power for growth and perseverance in our spiritual lives. It bends our wills to God’s, which is what submitting our lives is all about. Prayer cannot be reduced to a few simple rules, and though we sometimes talk about meditation, confession, adoration, submission, and petition, there is no prescribed order. But continual prayer is God’s will for us . . . we must always be “looking up,” even when driving to work or cleaning the house.
4. Discipline of Worship: Submission’s Celebration
Worship encompasses all of life: “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Rom. 12:1). Because Christ is the ultimate revelation of God (Col. 1:15–20), he must be the central focus of our worship as understood through Scripture (1 Tim. 4:13). Worship—whether by oneself at home, in the workplace, classroom, or with the church gathered—is consecration. Every woman who calls herself a Christian must understand that worship is the ultimate priority of her life . . . every day.
5. Discipline of Mind: Submission’s Education
No computer will ever be able to think God’s thoughts or know the heart of God or do his works. But it’s what the brain was created for—to have the mind of Christ. What a scandal that so many Christians don’t think Christianly! In one comprehensive sentence, Paul prescribes his personal mental program: “Whatever is true . . . honorable . . . just . . . pure . . . lovely . . . commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8). If you are filled with God’s Word, your life can then be informed and directed by God—your relationships at home, parenting, career, ethical decisions, and internal moral life.
6. Discipline of Contentment: Submission’s Rest
Paul wrote from prison that he had “learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Phil. 4:11). Fortunately for us, he said that he had “learned” . . . there is hope for all of us who face the monster of discontent! Applying our knowledge of God to our circumstances is the key to contentment. It will be ours when all that God is and all that he has done in Christ fills our heart. We may lack many things in this world, but as godly women we must work to develop the discipline of contentment.
7. Discipline of Propriety: Submission’s Behavior
Propriety means behaving in ways appropriate for Christians—actions that don’t bring shame to the Gospel and to Christ. Propriety elevates our words, our appearance, and our attitudes. It’s a perfect word for describing what Paul means when he tells believers to act “in a manner of life . . . worthy of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27). Propriety means acting in a way worthy of the gospel in dress (1 Pet. 3:3–4), speech, and attitude (Col. 3:12–14). If your behavior is worthy of the gospel, the source of that behavior will be a heart authentically bowed in humble submission to Jesus as Lord.
8. Discipline of Perseverance: Submission’s Challenge
Faith in the goodness of God in the face of extreme adversity grows out of a discipline of perseverance in the day-in, day-out grind of everyday life. “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1).
We all can develop perseverance by daily submitting to God’s will and looking to Jesus in whatever irritating, insignificant duties or grand-scale tragedies we may suffer (Rom. 8:18; Heb. 12:3). It involves submitting to God in our trials while trusting him to be good, wise, merciful, just, kind, lovingly all-knowing, and all-powerful.
9. Discipline of Singleness or Marriage: Submission’s Framework
Singleness is a positive assignment (1 Cor. 7:7) to be joyously received knowing that God doesn’t plan to give anyone less than the best. If marriage is our “assignment,” then we must discipline ourselves to submit to God’s will—to live as our husbands’ helpers (Gen. 2:18), submitting to and respecting their position (Eph. 5:22–24), and developing a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Pet. 3:1). As single or married daughters of Eve—the “mother of all living” (Gen. 3:20)—we must cultivate nurturing spirits. How we care for others will be dictated by where God places us—in a home, in a hospital, in the inner city, wherever.
10. Discipline of Good Deeds: Submission’s Industry
As believers we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Good deeds are the redeemed heart’s response of gratitude for the gift of God’s grace (1 Pet. 2:12). We gospel women must determine to develop the discipline of good deeds: “as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). Let us fill our days with good deeds.
As you cultivate the disciplines of godly womanhood, consider Paul’s words: “I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Cor. 15:10). There is no contradiction between grace and hard work. As we attempt to do God’s will, he always gives more grace!
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