Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
1 Timothy 4:7-8 (NIV)
Read: 1 Timothy 4:1-16
Consider: We can all be enticed by clever sounding ideas and stories. In today’s reading Paul tells Timothy to avoid ‘… godless myths and old wives’ tales …’ (1 Timothy 4:7). The Apostle Peter says this: For we did not follow cleverly devised stories [myths] when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty (2 Peter 1:16). Later in Peter’s second letter we read: But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them – bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories (2 Peter 2:1-3a). This applies equally to us today, particularly where someone cleverly twists Scripture to suit their own ends and to push their own ideas and values. This is a warning to us to be careful who and what we listen to.
Rather than spending time debating issues that are meaningless, Paul advises Timothy to ‘… train yourself to be godly’ (4:7). I like how the ESV renders this as: ‘… train yourself for godliness’. Godliness is not theoretical; it is practical and must be lived out, allowing it to influence every aspect of our lives. This leaves us with the question: How do we go about training ourselves in [for] godliness?
The first step that is necessary is for us to have an open and honest look into our own heart and mind, looking into the dark recesses of our soul to highlight those areas of life where we have excluded God. The psalmist says this: You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence (Psalm 90:8). We have a head knowledge that God knows us inside out, yet we tend to think that there are aspects of our life that only we know about. God cannot be surprised or disappointed that we have areas of our lives that need to be brought out into the open; he already knows. Only when we face these issues can we move on with God. We also need to be honest about how much time and effort we are prepared to put into developing godliness in our lives. Linked to this is the need to identify where and why we lack this dedication to things like reading and studying the Bible and praying. There must also be a willingness on our part to change.
Paul uses the analogy of physical training and compares it with spiritual training when he says: For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come (1 Timothy 4:8). When discussing the performance of tennis players at Wimbledon this year, some commentators mentioned the dedication and perseverance needed for an individual to become ‘world class’ in their chosen sport. There were some whose performance in previous years had been ‘average’, but the dedication they now put into their training had made all the difference in their ability to play at the highest level. This is a universal truism that applies to all sports and sports people.
Can the same be said of us? Can other Christians, with whom we meet, see that we have a desire to be more godly and are prepared to make the effort to do so? While we cannot do this in our own strength, the Holy Spirit will be working in us and through us to develop godliness in all aspects of our lives.
Pray: Father, may we surrender ourselves to your scrutiny, allowing you to shine your light into the deep and dark recesses of our spirits. Our desire is to develop godliness in every aspect of our lives and to become more Christlike day by day. Amen
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