Discipline is painful during the time it is administered. After all, being corrected isn’t always reassuring. All forms of training and chastisement include struggle, wrestling, and even suffering. Consider a diamond that needs to be purified. It must pass through the fire. Discipline is similar to putting ourselves through fire to be refined and chastised.
The truth is that discipline is painful—and that is on purpose. God intends discipline to have some consequence. This is because the endurance of pain allows us to grow. The pain is what chisels and shapes us into the people God created us to be. However, God’s promise regarding discipline is that, though it is painful at the time, it will yield much fruit. It will bring us justice and peace (Heb. 12:11).
Our need for discipline is based on the premise that we are not only defiant but also teachable and growth-oriented; we can change, mature, and grow. James encourages us to rejoice amid adversity because they are ways for God to discipline us. Discipline may be painful, but there is a lot of joy to be had from it, especially if we look at it in terms of the fruit that we can gain from it in the future rather than the struggles of the present. Paul reminds us that the disciplines we are practicing enable us to renounce ungodliness and worldly desires to live a life of self-control and godliness (Tit. 2:12).
The Desire Discipline: Hedonic Treadmill
Brickman and Campbell, psychologists, wrote about the concept of “Hedonic Adaptation” in 1971. The metaphor used to explain the idea is a treadmill, which depicts how humans tend to portray one pleasure after another. This is because when we finally obtain what we desire, we eventually become accustomed to it – we become accustomed to its presence and accustomed to having it; we adapt to it. Once this adaptation takes effect, we develop a new desire for something else.
The novelty of something we’ve just acquired eventually wears off. The initial rush or high from getting what we want finally wears off and returns to normal levels. When we have our desire satisfied, we become accustomed to it and crave the next new thing. This continues indefinitely, hence the treadmill metaphor.
So the question for us is, will we ever be able to get off the treadmill?
That is the essence of self-discipline. This is where our protagonist enters the picture.
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