But the opposite doesn't work out so well. Listen to what Solomon says in Ecclesiastes (The Message) about how it went for him when he abandoned self-discipline.
Everything I wanted I took—I never said no to myself. I gave in to every impulse, held back nothing. I sucked the marrow of pleasure out of every task—my reward to myself for a hard day’s work! Then I took a good look at everything I’d done, looked at all the sweat and hard work. But when I looked, I saw nothing but smoke. Smoke and spitting into the wind. There was nothing to any of it. Nothing.Most of us will probably end up somewhere in the middle between people who become olympic gold medalists and people who never say no to themselves. But it appears that the payoff comes to those who practice self-discipline.
After the writer of the Hebrews listed all of the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, the Message paraphrases Hebrews 12 like this:
Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!So there you have it. Time to say no to ourselves for the sake of the goal ahead of us.. and keeping our eyes on Jesus is what will take us there!