Breaking a Spiritual Sweat
1 Timothy 4:7-8
But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
Godly living is not a sport; it's hard work. It isn't something you do when you feel like it, or if you have some spare time for it, or if you are naturally good at it.
Paul said to train yourself for godliness. The word train is gumnazo, from which we get our word gymnasium. That is, Paul was saying to his son in the faith, "Timothy, go into the gymnasium of the Word and work up a sweat. In fact, if you're not breaking a spiritual sweat, you're probably not working at it hard enough."
Later in the same paragraph, Paul tells Timothy that this godliness is something for which we labor and strive (1 Timothy 4:10). The Greek word for labor is the root of our word agonize.
Imagine—Paul speaks of gaining godliness with words like "agonizing" and "training," just as an athlete would train and push himself to run a race. Actually, Paul uses that very analogy in a different letter wherein he says, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it"
I have heard people say, "I don't read the Bible because it's too hard to understand"; "I don't pray like I ought to because that has never come easy for me"; "I'd like to memorize Scripture but it takes forever." Christian growth requires spiritual sweat!
One of the greatest running backs in NFL history died at the age of forty-five. Walter Payton's skill and ability when he received the ball in his hands was legendary. When he retired after the 1987 season, he was the all-time leader in rushing yards. Though his on-field exploits impressed his fellow players, it was his off-season training which elevated him to iconic status in their eyes. Besides weight lifting, his daily routine included running near the Pearl River in Mississippi. He ran through the sand (65 yards of beach) or up the levee (a 45-degree slope).
For his legacy, Payton didn't want his statistics to be the focus, impressive as they were. "I want to be remembered," he said, "for giving it my all."
May we be men and women who "give it our all" for something far more lasting than a football game—let's train, and agonize, and run after, and with . . . godliness!
Prayer Point: Ask the Lord to forgive you for excusing apathy and the lack of discipline in regard to spiritual matters such as prayer, Bible reading/study, and memorization. Thank Him for His patience with you as you've taken time to learn that these disciplines are called "spiritual disciplines" because they require—discipline.
Extra Refreshment: Read and memorize 1 Timothy 4:7-8. This will not only refresh your heart but advance you another step in your spiritual discipline!
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