Read 1 Timothy 4.
In today’s chapter, Paul turned to address Timothy personally.
After warning him about prophesies that some would abandon the faith (vv. 1-4), Paul spoke about the importance of tending to his own spiritual life in verses 6-10.
The key verse in this paragraph is verse 7b: “train yourself to be godly.” The word train is deliberately chosen from athletics. We see this in verse 8 which talks about the limited value of “physical training.” Godliness, according to Paul, is like working out in that it must be done consistently.
You can go to the gym today and work out until you are so depleted and so sore that can’t walk anymore. But tomorrow you will see no difference in the mirror. If that’s all the training you do for this month, you won’t be any stronger or faster on October 1. Or November 1. Or any day in the future. One day of strenuous workout does not change the way your body looks or works.
But, if you work out regularly, you will build muscle and you might burn some fat. Those effects of regularly working out will start to affect your appearance. In addition, you will be able to perform better athletically over all.
So it is with godliness.
If we become godly by “training ourselves,” we need to work on cultivating godliness regularly. That means daily Bible reading and prayer. It means giving regularly and serving routinely.
It also helps to take a class in some aspect of Christian living. It helps to talk about your faith and your struggles with other believers in small groups. Getting stronger spiritually requires you to reach outside your comfort zone to help someone who is needy or struggling. It strengthens you to share your faith in Christ, especially if you fear being rejected.
Once we’ve been taught by the word, we need to do what the word commands us to do through obedience. This is how we train to “be godly” (v. 7) not just aspire to godliness or know what it means to be godly.
By the way, God brings trials into our lives to test the quality of our faith. These trials are like games or races; they reveal in real-time how good our training is and how much progress we’ve made in spiritual strength.
What are you doing to train yourself as a Christian? What should you add to your training to take you to another level?