Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Reading Notes: Disciplines of a Godly Man, Chapters 10-13, by R. Kent Hughes

Opening Remarks -- There is an intentional framework for this section on "Character". The author starts by discussing integrity and character in Chapter 10, then in Chapter 11 and 12 he discusses how integrity/character manifests itself by (1) what we say (the tongue) and (2) what we do (our work/deeds). The author concludes by discussing the Discipline of Perseverance in Chapter 13 -- this logically follows because "perseverance" ought to be an attribute if integrity is applied to speech/words and action/deeds.

Chapter 10 - Discipline of Integrity

  • Any realistic survey would reveal that American culture is in big trouble. But the crisis isn't merely a culture problem, it is a people problem.
  • "But the main reason for the integrity crisis is that we humans are fundamentally dishonest. We are congenital liars" (p. 126). The author points to Paul's words in Romans 3:13, "their tongues practice deceit."
  • But "God desires truth in the inward parts." - Psalm 51:6. Take-Away-Point: Don't be deceptive, and don't be self-deceived.
  • Solution: "Integrity is one of the greatest needs of the Church today" (p. 127). So, never (1) cheat/steal/defraud; (2) keep your word; and (3) be a man of principle.
  • Truth-telling is a discipline. We must discipline ourselves to always tell the truth.
  • From the book's "Think About It!" section: "Read through Psalm 15, making a list of every mentioned character trait or personal action that relates to integrity and its companions, truth and honesty. Then go back through the list and indicate how you are doing on each point (poor, fair, varies, consistently obedient, etc.) Now pray for God's help in living out all of this" (p. 133).
Chapter 11 - Discipline of the Tongue
  • Discipline of the tongue is a related fruit of the discipline of integrity.
  • Author cites the "Boxer Rebellion" of 1899 in China as an example of the destructive power of the tongue.
  • So: Do not doubt or underestimate the power of the tongue (cf. p. 137f). The tongue has intrinsic power (James 3:1-4), e.g., the way a rudder controls a ship, and the tongue has destructive and corruptive power (James 3:5-6), e.g., gossip, innuendo, flattery, criticism, and diminishment.
  • "A true text of a man's spirituality is not his ability to speak, as we are apt to think, but rather his ability to bridle his tongue" (p. 142).
  • Therefore: the author recommends that we (1) ask God to discipline your tongue, (2) ask God to cauterize our lips (cf. Isaiah 6:5), (3) ask God to impress this need as an ongoing prayer, (4) strive to memorize Scripture "which teach the proper use of the tongue" (see all the excerpts on the tongue from the Book of Proverbs on pp. 275-278).
Chapter 12 - Discipline of Work
  • Both sloth and overwork are a contemporary epidemic (p. 147).
  • Work matters to God. Christians are called to "Get Dominion" for Jesus. "Men everything about your work must be directed toward Him -- your attitudes, your integrity, your intensity, and your skill" (p. 152). We "Get Dominion" for Jesus by apply excellence to our trade/sill/vocation/calling: "Work that is truly Christian is work well done" (p. 154).
  • Assessment test provided by the author: (1) Do I do my work for the glory of God? (2) Do I honestly work hard? (3) Do I work with enthusiasm? (4) Do I work wholeheartedly? (5) Do I do excellent work?
Chapter 13 - Discipline of Perseverance
  • We must persevere in integrity, persevere in with fruit of integrity in our speech and deeds--in order to do this we must focus on Jesus Christ and overcome obstacles, tribulations, etc.
  • Christians need to cultivate the virtues of hope and joy.
  • "If we focus on the joy that Christ has set before us, we will endure the sufferings of this world and will dismiss any shame incurred in His name as nothing. And we will run the race to His glory" (p. 163).
  • "The discipline of perseverance confronts us to" (p. 164f): (1) Divest. Throw off besetting sin . . . (2) Run. Run our own race, the race God has marked for us . . . (3) Focus. We must focus on Jesus . . . (4) Consider. We must consider Him (Jesus). Our life is to be spent considering how He lived (cf. Hebrews 12:1-3).

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