Two or three years ago, feeling the need for more exacting physical exercise than I received during an occasional walk with our dog, I joined a local exercise programme. After a while I certainly noticed the benefit, feeling stronger, fitter and less likely to tire generally. However, I do not enjoy that type of exercise, and I am very good at finding excuses and reasons not to go! I have to be disciplined and make myself go, despite not feeling like it, because I know that it is good for me. I know that if I neglect exercising my body, my muscles will become weaker and less able to do the job I need them for.
In a similar way, our spiritual muscles need constant use if we are to remain strong in the faith and able to resist the enemy’s attacks. In today’s verse Paul is exhorting Timothy to train himself to be godly. Godliness does not come naturally to fallen human beings – we have to train ourselves in it. This means making right choices in our lives moment by moment, not giving in to what our carnal nature is demanding.
Athletes preparing to compete in next year’s Olympic Games will be undergoing rigorous training programmes. This will involve strenuous physical exercise as well as strict discipline as to how they live their lives, abstaining from things that would weaken or pollute their bodies, putting ‘normal’ life on hold. Are we prepared to exercise similar discipline in our training to be godly? Are we prepared to separate ourselves from what the world considers normal but what may be incompatible with the holiness to which God has called us? Are we willing to deny our carnal nature the ungodly pleasures that it demands? Do we put the needs of others before our own? The more we are willing to do these things, the stronger our spiritual muscles will be, and the more godly our lives will become.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I am sorry for the times I have been half-hearted in my walk with You. I want to be more like You. Please help me to train in godliness, making right choices and laying down my life for You. Amen.
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