The new year is a time that many of us start new training programs. We decide to use the fresh beginning to practice some better habits that we hope will become a normal way of living come December. Maybe you are one who decided to go to the gym this year, or eat fewer desserts. All of that is good for your body. Have you considered the need to train for godliness?
Paul wrote to Timothy, Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales;rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, butgodliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present lifeand the life to come (1 Timothy 4:7-8). I think physical training is hardsometimes. Training for godliness is even harder but, as Paul points out, ithas results that will matter now and in heaven. Every time I turn down a brownieand keep my commitment to my exercise routine I am doing something of value.I am helping to promote health in my decaying body. The choices I make now canhave huge impact in the next twenty years. If I keep my cholesterol down I willbe less likely to have heart disease. But all the training I do for godlinesshas payoffs now, in the next twenty years and for eternity.
Most of us know what we should be eating and how much we should be exercising,but what should we be doing to train for godliness? One point contained in thisscripture is to have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives tales. Basicallywhat Paul is saying is that we need to recognize what is worthless in this world.Our world is full of God’s presence and the creation He loves. It is alsofull of worthless realities that too many of us are focused. We train in godlinesswhen we recognize the things that distract us from God.
Physical training goes against my nature. I do not want to get up earlier soI can push my body to complete my physical exercise routine. I want to sleepa little longer. I want to get right into a hot shower rather than sweat andget dirtier. I go against my nature to train for a healthier life. It’sthe same in my training for godliness. I have to go against my nature. It isonly natural for me to want to rush through my devotions in the morning ratherthan take the time to sit and be quiet and really hear what God has to say tome for the day. Naturally, I feel the urge to get on with my list of things todo and do not want to be interrupted by the sales call in the middle of my morning.It’s not natural for me to really look at the sunrise and praise the Godwhose mercies are new every morning. I’ve learned that in training forgodliness, I have to force myself to do things that are unnatural for me. I haveto make myself think of God first thing in the morning, and one day it becomesthe most natural thought on my mind. I need to carve out time in my day to readmy Bible and pray and before long I begin craving a word from God and can’twait to have this time.
What are you doing to train for godliness? Each year we need to evaluate wherewe are and where we have been and where we are going. It is hard work, but, asPaul pointed out, the rewards are for here and in the future.