February 6, 2018
READ: 1 Timothy 4:6-16
Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come (v.8).
I know a mum of two young children who has an interesting hobby—weightlifting. She can hoist 245 lbs. from the floor to a standing position! To set that personal record, she had to build strength in her lower back, quadriceps and hamstrings through exercises such as squats, straight-legged sit-ups and step-ups.
If this strong woman had lived back when the apostle Paul was alive, I think he would’ve approved of her exercise regimen. He wrote that physical training was a good thing, and then added, “but training for godliness is much better” (1 Timothy 4:8). It’s better because it’s beneficial in this life and the next.
So how do we train ourselves to be more Christ-like? Thankfully, it’s not just a matter of trying harder to obey the Bible’s instructions. Paul assures us that we’re “made holy by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:16). Set apart for God’s use, our responsibility is to cooperate with His Spirit through exercises such as prayer, confession, fasting and meditating on Scripture.
It’s possible to perform these exercises and remain spiritually weak. If we make them into empty rituals or duties, we miss the point. They’re valuable, however, when they serve as ways to connect with God. He’s the one who sculpts us into people who reflect His attributes (Hebrews 10:10).
Although we won’t be fully free from sin until the day Jesus returns, sincerely pursuing God and His holiness does build spiritual strength (1 Timothy 4:7,10). When we’re spiritually strong by His work in and through us, we’re more prepared to deal with temptation, discouragement and loss in ways that honour Him. May we yield to the Spirit’s training so that God will be lifted up!
365-day plan: Exodus 7:1-14
Read Hebrews 5:14 and consider one specific benefit of spiritual training.
Reflect on the life of Christ and make a list of the spiritual disciplines He practised. Which disciplines might be helpful to incorporate into your spiritual walk?