“Rather 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 Tim. 4:7b-8. (ESV)
As I approached my 50th birthday, I made the decision to begin training for a marathon. Prior to that time, I had regularly run 8-10 miles a week. Training for a marathon means running up to 30-40 miles a week…an obvious difference. It took several years of physical training to bridge that gap and prepare myself to finally complete a marathon.
In the verse for today, Paul affirms some value in physical training, but makes it clear that training for godliness is of greater importance. His reasoning is that the benefits of physical training are limited to this life, while the benefits of training in godliness extend into the next life. As we increase in our Christlikeness in this life, we are able to impact others to draw them closer to Christ. We may do this by assisting in their salvation or discipling them in their walk with Christ. The fact that I completed a marathon benefitted no one but myself. Training in godliness will have eternal benefit for others.
The fact that Paul states that we have to engage in training in godliness is important. We are not instantly godly when we receive the Holy Spirit at our salvation. Godliness is not achieved while we sleep. We attain godliness by engaging in training that requires effort on our part, similar to training for a marathon.
To train in godliness requires that we spend time learning who God is. This involves not just reading the Bible, but also taking the time to study and meditate on the Bible. It means periodically taking time to look up the meaning of the original word. Fortunately, this is not difficult with today’s Bible software and apps such as the AcroBible. Finally, it means taking what you learn from your study and applying it to your life. That’s when attitudes and actions begin to change. That’s when godliness begins to increase.
Make a decision today to start or renew your efforts to train in godliness.
Prayer: Lord, remind me of the many benefits of godliness and help me develop a training strategy to achieve it.