One of my first jobs right out of college was at a company by the name of Cbeyond. They were a telecommunications company that sold Voiceover IP services. Unlike other companies, they didn’t just throw you to the wolves the first day. I mean, eventually, you were thrown to the wolves, but before that happened they put me through a rigorous training program.
My first two weeks on the job, I did nothing but learn about the company and the products they sold. As well as I did a lot of role playing, running through different scenarios they expected us to face in the field. You see, I didn’t just get hired and wake up the next day an excellent salesman for Cbeyond. I had to be trained.
That is the same with godliness. We don’t get saved one day, and wake up the next godly.
We Must Train Ourselves for Godliness
This is what Paul urges Timothy to do, to train himself for godliness. In verses 7 and 8 of 1 Timothy 4 Paul says,
“Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. 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 Ti 4:7–8)
When Paul tells Timothy to train himself for godliness, he’s not telling him to neglect his body.
The Body Isn’t Bad
As Christians, we don’t believe that the body is bad while the spirit is good. We believe both are good. After all, God is going to resurrect our physical bodies when Jesus returns, make them new, and we will live in those glorified bodies for all eternity. So our bodies aren’t bad. They aren’t to be neglected. We should do all that we can to take care of our bodies. God has given them to us to steward, so we should steward them well. Which means we should watch what we eat, exercise, listen to our doctors, and take our medication.
Don’t Make Your Body an Idol
But while stewarding our bodies is important, it can’t be all that we do. We aren’t to make an idol out of our bodies. They shouldn’t become something we worship.
Focus on the Spiritual Life
We must also, as Paul tells us, focus on our spiritual life. In fact, it seems our spiritual life should be our primary focus because it will not only pay dividends in the future, but now as well. So we should do as Paul tells us — we should train ourselves for godliness.
What does it mean to train ourselves for godliness?
Training is something we should all be familiar with. It’s an exercise term. Many of us, at least at some point in our lives, have trained for something.
Last year I trained for a 5k. Not to be able to run it, I run 3 miles all the time, but to run it at a certain pace. Hitting the pace I had set for myself wasn’t going to happen over night. It knew it would take time for my legs, heart, and breathing to get stronger. So I spent several months stressing my body and teaching myself to run more efficiently. I’m happy to say I hit my target pace. But that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been training.
So training, then, is an act by which we develop a certain skill or behavior through regular practice, activity, and instruction.
Godliness Associated with Training
The other word Paul associates with training is godliness. Godliness simply means that we have a deep respect for and devotion to God. So when we say someone is godly, what we are saying is that they are a person who is devoted to and is living for God.
Putting It All Together
Putting this altogether, we learn that:
Training ourselves for godliness means that we are constantly working to grow in our devotion, respect, and desire for God.
We don’t get to that point over night, nor do we ever reach a point where we believe ourselves to be godly and stop training. It takes a lot of continued time, effort, and work that plays out over a lifetime. But it’s worth it. So we should make it a point to enter into God’s gym daily training ourselves for godliness.
Next time, I will provide some practical ways we can train ourselves for godliness.
Question for Reflection?
- Are you training for godliness?
Post adapted from my sermon: How Can We Train Ourselves for Godliness?