Train Yourself

We talk a lot about the absolute necessity of "community" for both participating in the mission Christ gave the church, and for our personal growth in grace. We push that hard at Redeemer, because it is true. You simply cannot live the life God calls you to live apart from the local church. But let's not forget these words by the Apostle Paul.

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 Timothy 4:7-8 ESV)

We must take seriously our need to grow in godliness. We must do so. I must do so. It is often easy to give attention to our vocation, ministry, hobbies, or health, but it appears to me that godliness gets less attention than it should.

This idea of training ourselves for godliness is similar to training for sport, or physical competition. It means progressive, vigorous exercise that bears fruit over time. The fruit that comes through discipline is not typically instantaneous, but delayed. It will come, but not without the training. Perhaps it's because we are generally unhealthy and inactive that the idea of training doesn't appeal. Or, perhaps it's our culture of immediate-access and instant-gratification that our work in the process of sanctification is not taken seriously. But there it is, staring at us. Inviting us. Train yourself. Pursue godliness with progressive, vigorous spiritual exercise that will bear fruit over time. We want godliness, but lack the patience and/or the will to give sustained effort to find it.

I find that we often become frustrated with our own sin and struggles, and feeling defeated we throw up our arms in prayer asking God to change us and finally deliver us. It's a hail-mary pass that we know wont work before the ball leaves our fingers. It's not that God won't change us, but that change happens over time as we rely on God's grace and work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

On the one hand we must find our confidence before God, our victory over sin, and our hope of restoration in Jesus Christ alone. But on the other hand, out of that confidence, we should strive to be what we are made to be. These two hands work together in our spiritual fight to put sin to death and live unto God.