Build upon what you have been given. This past weekend had a slight break in the absolutely hot weather, so I took advantage of putting together a stand for a friend's bike. The project had been lingering on my 'to do' list for way too long. As I thought about how to go about building this piece, I had many options, but I chose to 're-purpose' reclaimed wood to make the project's base. It was two inch thick pieces about five inches wide wood from some pallets I disassembled some time ago. Dried, solid, and beyond the degree of strength of the stuff I could get at the local builder's store, I chose to 'build upon what I had been given', so to speak. It turned out to make a very solid base to support the cruiser bike. We might not think that we can build upon much in our spiritual life, but one of the ways we can is to choose to build upon what we have been given and then to develop 'alert discipline' in its use. To a strong moral foundation (created by allowing the Lord to remodel how we interpret moral or good choices) and developing spiritual discernment, we are to add alert discipline. Usually, we think of discipline in one of two ways: 1) the character traits of being very organized, on top of things, and totally ordered in our daily work; or 2) the punishment we get when we don't make the right choices. Both are truthful meaning and each has a place in our lives as we 'grow' in Christ - allowing him to help us 'build upon what we have been given' in our walk.
So don't lose a minute in building on what you've been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can't see what's right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.
(2 Peter 1:5-9)
The term "alert discipline" is really a kind of self-control - the ability to exercise some consistent type of restraint over our actions and our feelings. It carries the idea of being "level headed" in our daily walk. A disciple of Christ needs to be balanced in their emotions - that balance influences all the actions that one takes. Alert discipline is really a state of "stability" in our mind, emotions, and will. There are times I joke about 'losing my sanity' over something that is happening in my life - usually a build-up of events, one upon the other, until things are kind of spiraling out of control. At that moment, I need more than any other thing this 'alert discipline' spoken of here in this passage. Why? Without it, I am going to find myself buried under that mountain of mess rather than using it as a building foundation!
The idea of alert discipline is really an attitude or mindset toward remaining in a condition of stability or "sanity" in our daily walk. It is the ability to resist the tendency to "over-focus" on things that are really "minor" in the scheme of things and the ability to "re-focus" on the things that we need to be "majoring" in. It is the consistent control of our emotional investment in the things we are going through - attentively investing the right amount of emotional energy into those things (neither too much, nor too little). It is also the determined strength to resist that which will provide a negative effect in our lives and to invest in that which will allow us to grow. When someone shares that their 'sanity' is under attack, I don't take the request for "sanity" lightly - it is usually a reflection of a heart that is being "pulled" in a whole bunch of different directions. It is a heartfelt plea for balance. That is exactly what we need to add into our lives - total and complete balance. The next time you feel your world beginning to spin out of control, remember to ask God to add "alert discipline" into your daily walk, redirecting your emotions, focusing your mind and assisting in your battle of the will.
Stability (the ability to continue on without much change) is really a state that we are constantly moving toward. As we came to Christ, as babes in Christ, we possessed very little stability in the area of our emotions, will or mindset. We find that we are up one day, down the next, obedience coming easily this time, but with much effort the next. That is a natural part of growing in Christ. We need to recognize that as our moral fibers are "re-knit" and our spiritual discernment is being "fine-tuned", God is also moving about doing the work of bringing us into a state of stability (in our mind, will and emotions). We cannot have stability if the foundation is "off". We cannot enjoy consistency in our choices if we are not accurately "interpreting" life's events. The moment we begin to look at building upon what we have been given instead of always looking for new building materials, we might just find that with God's help in our lives there is much use for what it is we already possess! Just sayin!