1 Timothy 4:6-10
Train Yourself for Godliness
What is it that Paul wants young Timothy to do above all else? The answer lies in verse seven: “Train yourself for godliness.” Indeed, this is every Christian’s first concern. It is due to the neglect of such training that we will hear of a pastor’s fall from grace for some indiscretion. On a larger scale, it is the carelessness or even desertion of godliness by God’s people that leads unbelievers to turn away from God. All the witnessing in the world, good Bible teaching, solid preaching, tithing, and good deeds done here and there will never make up for lives that do not seek after God, that conform to the world rather than being transformed to the life of Christ, that sin in secret and wear masks in public. And do note that one must “train” for godliness as an athlete trains for his sport. Christian disciplines such a Bible reading, prayer, worshiping with God’s people, doing good needs, giving of our selves—all of these and more are ways we train for godliness. But even all of these must come from a heart panting for God; otherwise, they are just empty rituals. Still, our hearts won’t be right if we don’t commit to these disciplines. Hearts which are right with God do these disciplines, and these disciplines help keep hearts right with God. To sum, growing in grace, in godliness, is not an option for the Christian; indeed, lack of such growth is counter-evidence of one’s profession of being a Christian.
The Apostle wants Timothy to “put these things before the brothers.” What things? The things Paul has been writing about in this letter. And he wants Timothy to understand that he must both preach these things and LIVE them. He reminds Timothy that “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.” This might be a reference to the false teachers who emphasized a more ascetic lifestyle denying marriage and certain foods. At any rate, such advice is certainly something Christians in American need to hear who often fixate on their bodies and mirrors. Eating right and exercising are important, but not as important as taking care of one’s soul. Check your motives and priorities when walking into the fitness center. Our bodies will eventually fail us; let us see to it that our souls do not.
Our God is indeed the Savior of all people. He sends the rain on the just and unjust and showers blessings on everyone. No one will be able to stand before Him and complain when the Day comes. But our God is Savior in a special way of those who believe. They shall have neither anything to complain of nor boast over. They will say, “It is all of grace.”