“TRAIN YOURSELF IN GODLINESS”
Train yourself in godliness. For the training of the body has limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance. (1 Timothy 4:7b-9)
Earlier in the lockdown, when you could still exercise in groups of ten, the park across the road was consistently busy. Everywhere I looked there were people lifting weights and doing crunches, all working hard to keep their bodies in good shape throughout the long days at home. As restrictions tightened, gyms had to pivot to providing one-on-one sessions and Zoom classes, and many of them, mine included, now offer weekly mantras to increase motivation and fuel good thinking patterns. I’m sure this holistic approach to health has many benefits, benefits which I can see in my own life as I’ve tried to keep exercise on the agenda. But what if there is something even more important to keep on the agenda, not only during lockdown, but throughout the regular rhythms of life?
In Paul’s first letter to Timothy, he urges his young ministry apprentice to pursue a type of training even more beneficial than exercise. He urges Timothy to “train yourself in godliness” for while the benefits of physical training are limited to life here and now, “godliness… holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” The comparison to physical training is a helpful one for deep down, no matter how gym-resistant we may be, we know that while exercise is hard work, it’s work that is worth it. Think of all our Olympic athletes and the hours of training that went into winning those medals! Naturally we celebrate them, but even their amazing achievements will not last beyond this life. The prize we are waiting for is of course far greater than a gold medal, and while our pursuit of godliness is not what will get us there, as we strive to be more like Jesus we are able to increasingly live a life that pleases Him. Paul is not saying we must work for our salvation; rather we are to live out our salvation in the present as we run towards the finish line when we will finally see Jesus face to face.
So while lockdown is a great time to focus on our physical and mental fitness, let’s also make it a time to grow in our spiritual fitness. Like an athlete training for a marathon through self-discipline, practice and preparation, let’s engage in the habits that will help us become more like Jesus so that we might be strengthened to run the Christian race for all the days God gives us.
The Bible speaks of many ways we can grow in our Christian lives both personally and collectively, such as engaging in the study of God’s Word, fellowship, prayer, pausing for times of lament and celebration, serving others and giving, just to name a few. Choose one of these to focus on this week. How could you make space to incorporate this practice into your life? (Perhaps think of where, when and how you might do this).
Pray for God’s help to be disciplined and joyful in your pursuit of godliness. Ask Him to guide and strengthen you to know Him more as you live out your faith in practice.
Assistant Minister | Women and Families