Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Godliness Doesn't Happen by Accident

In 1 Timothy 4:6-8, Paul challenges Timothy to train himself for godliness. This analogy between physical and spiritual development can teach us a lot as we seek to grow in godliness.

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.
If I could sum up the lesson to be learned here in one statement, it is that godliness doesn't happen by accident!

Think about the whole process of physical training: you don't just look down at your abs one day and realize, "Whoa, I've got a six pack! Where'd that come from?" You don't just go for a walk one day and next thing you know you're running a marathon. You TRAIN! You work hard. You put in the sit ups, the crunches, the miles.

So if physical development takes time and effort, then why should spiritual development be any different? A wise man I know is fond of saying that "discipline comes before devotion." You may desire to be a person marked by devotion  and a lifestyle of worship, but the bridge that will get you from desire to devotion is called "discipline."

This may not sound very exciting, especially in the age of instant gratification. But just as those pills and shakes that you see on tv really only work alongside regular diet and exercise (if they work at all), so all the quick fixes that we attempt (camps, conferences, "revivals," etc.) are no substitute for the daily disciplines of spending time in personal worship and of learning to live out godliness in everyday life. And just as putting on a shirt with a picture of a six pack is no substitute for actually being in shape, so outward acts of conspicuous religiosity are no substitute for a worshipful heart.

Godliness doesn't happen by accident. And it doesn't come cheap. You've got to train for it.

At this point, someone might interject, "Hey, are you teaching us to trust in our own strength for our sanctification?" Well, I'm glad you brought that up, because it leads into my next point. Notice in verse 6 of 1 Timothy 4: the ground of our training is in "the words of the faith and the good doctrine." The next post in this series will show how Godliness Is Empowered by Grace. We'll dig down even more into the nitty-gritty of growing in godliness.

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