Baseball is a hard game. Nothing in sports is more difficult than trying to hit a thrown baseball with a bat. Nothing. The fine motor skills required to play the game take years to develop. Baseball is a hard game. It’s even harder for someone without discipline. Those who lack discipline make a hard game painful. They may have God-given skill, but their unwillingness to apply work ethic to that skill has some interesting and often humorous results. The outfielder who can run well never learns proper angles on balls in the gap or over his head. As a result, he is a liability on defense, despite his incredible tools. The infielder with a great arm never learns to charge a ground ball. Consequently, at an advanced level, he struggles to make even routine plays and wonders why. The game becomes painful for those without discipline.

Life is the same way. As a friend of mine has said: “Life is hard. And an undisciplined life is painful.” Let’s admit now that life is not easy. We live in a sinful and broken world, full of sinful and broken people who do sinful and destructive things to themselves and others. Life is hard. There is no way around that. Clearly, God’s grace and goodness make it better, but until Jesus returns, sin and its consequences will still make life hard.

Life may be hard, but we don’t have to bring unnecessary pain on ourselves through our lack of discipline. It is entirely possible to have a marriage you enjoy, children you love to be with, parents you like having around, a relationship with God that is based on love and not fear. These things are possible, but they are the results of long term discipline–daily application of wise and biblical principles and thinking in the ordinary things of life.

Proverbs 23:12 teaches us the same thing: “Apply your heart to discipline, and your ears to words of knowledge” (NASB).

You won’t pick up discipline by osmosis. It doesn’t just happen automatically. You must apply yourself, all of you, toward it, in every aspect of your life. Then, and only then, can you avoid bringing unnecessary pain into your life.

Life may be hard, but we don’t have to be part of the reason it is painful. Be disciplined. It will set you free.

Here’s a prayer:

Lord, if I evaluate my life, it is both hard and painful. If I look closely, I recognize my lack of discipline is adding to the pain. Change me. Break my undisciplined tendencies and replace them with the freedom that comes from living diligently according to the Bible. Amen.