Monday, January 6, 2014

Training to be Godly

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 4:7b-8 NIV (1978)
I spend some time most days involved in physical training.  Most days I will don the fancy running clothes and spend time dodging cars out on the local roads.  Following that will usually be a long session that includes light muscle toning and stretching.  Some of the stretching is to prevent leg muscles from tightening up too badly, while an equal amount of the stretching is to combat the stiffness that seems to be a part of the "growing older" package.  I come away from the session feeling looser and better prepared for the day ahead of me.

That physical training has some additional value beyond not being as stiff.  I never have to listen to a doctor tell me that I need to get more exercise, although I do get nagged about diet somewhat.  But more importantly, it has great value when I strap on a backpack and head out into the mountains.  Running 30+ miles a week is of great value when walking 20 miles a day up and down mountains.

But as important as the physical exercise is to me, training to be godly is even more important.  For some people being godly means that one goes to church regularly and doesn't break the rules, at least not very much.  But to me it carries the idea of being like God.  I realize of course that in many ways I will never be like God, especially when trapped in this body.  But as Paul directs in Ephesians 5:1, "Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love", I can be like him in the way I treat the people I come into contact with.

To be godly, I need to walk in the way of love.  Now I don't know about you, but this is pretty challenging for me.  I am at heart fairly self-centered, and putting others needs ahead of my own is a challenge; at least for those outside of my family.  It requires a conscious effort and discipline, remarkably similar to getting out on the road every day.  Choosing to love, even when I don't feel like it, or the person seems unworthy of it, can be very hard.  And sticking with it when it seems to bear no immediate results is like continuing to run, even when tired and the finish line seems so very far away.

But, just like running, the more I train myself to be godly, to walk in love, the more natural it becomes.  And the results of walking in love are more far reaching that the physical exercise.  Physical exercise keeps the body working better, and has some impact on my emotional well being.  But walking in love helps me in my relationship with God, relationships with others both within the body of Christ and without.  Being godly changes who I am at my core, rather than just on the surface.  And, most importantly, it has application to my eternity.  Once the body I inhabit is gone, the physical training I put it through no longer matters.  But the training in godliness will continue to bear fruit as I continue fulfilling the purpose God created me for.

Indeed, there is some value in keeping your physical body in good shape.  But there is much more value in disciplining yourself to be godly, to follow Jesus example, to walk in the way of love.  But do you dare?  Are you willing to lose yourself in Him?

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