Train yourself for godliness, for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:7-8
I belong to a gym. I haven’t always put time into working out, but have made it a habit the last few years. There are times that I’ve driven away from working out thinking about how much time I’ve put into the gym that week compared to how much time I’ve put into studying the Bible and praying. Or thinking about how much time have I put into doing something for the Kingdom that has eternal value. It doesn’t always match up, like my time working out far outweighs my time in the Word.
As a culture, and as a Christian culture, I would bet that most of us could say we put more time into bodily training. There are times when I needed to put more time into bodily training, as I let things get unbalanced the other way and my health and weight suffered. While getting in shape and trying to be healthy is a good goal, training for godliness is an even better goal. It not only helps us in this life, but “also for the life to come.” In other words, there will be some sort of reward or value gained by becoming godly.
I have a pretty good idea of what it would take to get in tip top physical shape, whether or not I ever actually get there. But how to get in spiritual shape is another question. How do we train ourselves for godliness? Paul gives some ideas as you continue to read in 1 Timothy 4. “Toil and strive,” “Command and teach these things,” “Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching,” “Do not neglect the gift you have,” “Practice these things, immerse yourself in them,” “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching,” and finally: “Persist in this.”
In other words, becoming godly doesn’t just happen. In 2 Peter 1:3-4, Peter wrote that, His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness…by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature. God has given us His power to live a godly life and He has given us His very great promises so that if we walk them out, our character becomes more like Jesus’ character.
Peter continued in the verses following that to say: Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1: 5-8.
We don’t talk much about self restraint, godliness, and toiling, striving and immersing ourselves in godly character traits. We need to. It holds value for this life and the one to come. If we are godly, we will be effective and fruitful. When we train for godliness, it doesn’t look the same as training for a 5K. Instead, we call on God’s divine power, we stand on His very great promises and we practice self control, persisting even through discouraging times, brotherly love and affection. We don’t neglect our spiritual gifting and we take great pains to practice obedience and to teach it to others.
Finally, developing good habits are a way to build good character. For instance, Hebrews 10:24-25 reminds us not to neglect meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another. Our habits are one of the most important things about who we are. Build good habits into your daily and weekly routine that point to the list in 2 Peter 1, just like exercising and eating well points to good overall health.
It’s time to get to God’s gym.