My husband and I like to select a focus and/or words for each year. It helps us to be intentional about shepherding the souls God has placed in our home. After selecting a focus it helps us to plan the hymns we will learn, memory verses, and various other things. This year our focus is “Devotion & Discipline.” He and I spent a lot of time discussing how you really can’t have one of these without the other and why we think they were important for our family this year.
I’ve selected two key Scripture verses to go with each of these words which I will share in a moment. With the word devotion we attach: to God and others. Our devotion to God should motivate everything we do in life. It doesn’t always work out this way. Sometimes our devotion to self wins out, but it shouldn’t be this way. Praise God for Jesus who exemplified devotion to God the Father on our behalf. If our devotion is in the right place, [self] discipline should be a reaction to that devotion. I think one of my key portions of Scripture speaks to this clearly:
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
Love and devotion can often be used interchangeably. Love suffers long. That means even when I am frustrated to no end, I am patient and understanding. Love is kind, warm-hearted, generous. Love doesn’t grumble, even on the inside, when a child asks to share the candy bar you had been waiting all day to eat all by yourself. Love takes the time to snuggle up beside a child and read the story one more time when there is laundry to do. Love does not behave rudely, seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil. Love believes her husband when he says he didn’t mean to forget about taking the trash out. Love does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth. Love is not ashamed of God or His law–any of His laws. Love does not delight in sin and will gently yet firmly pull her child aside and point them back to Christ and away from evil–even when she’s tired, even when she’s done it ten times in the last thirty minutes. This is because she hates sin and loves Truth. She sees the danger of sin, the evil of sin and the folly of sin. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love stands strongly with her husband in trials. She encourages him, she reminds him of their Hope.
Of course, we can do none of these things in and of ourselves. Christ makes it all possible and the Holy Spirit alone enables us to carry out any of these actions. But do you see how correct devotion requires discipline? Self-devotion/self-love is not a Biblical concept. Love is otherly … it is me reaching out, looking up, forgetting me and joyfully serving others because of Christ. He exemplified love and devotion on every possible level. And it should be my devotion to Him that motivates me in my devotion to Him and others.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. James 1:22-24
These verses remind me that hearing the Word isn’t enough. The Lord expects me to act upon His Word and has given me the Holy Spirit who will enable me to do this. My prayer for this year is that I will be a doer and that doesn’t mean in some radical, missional way. I hope and pray I will be a doer in front of my husband and children–that I will show my devotion to Christ through my devotion to them through things like taking walks with them, looking at them when they talk to me (for the entire conversation), warm meals around a table each night, stopping for snuggles, consistent discipline, waking up with my husband, greeting him when he comes home with a kiss and a smile, not ascribing false motives to him, praying for all of them, and so much more.