1 Timothy 4:6-10
6 If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished by the words of the faith and the good teaching that you have followed. 7 But have nothing to do with irreverent and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness, 8 for the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance. 10 In fact, we labor and strive for this, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of everyone, especially of those who believe.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
Paul writes to Timothy clarifying his role and encouraging him to practice discipline, to train, and to give specific attention to the godly life. There are two important facets to this exhortation Paul makes to Timothy. One is the reminder of the powerful instruction Timothy has received from both his grandmother and his mother and then from Paul himself. What Timothy already knows has been a powerful influence on others. (A reminder here to all believers – we know more than we actually preach.)
The second facet of the exhortation is for Timothy to continue to see the value of training for godliness, that it will prove well for him. The exhortation includes not only the result of the training – a godly life, but the actual training itself! Timothy’s assignment is the same for each of us as believers: practice – train – discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness!
Discipline seems to have different requirements for different individuals. Some individuals can be disciplined in certain areas while having no self-control in others. For over thirty years I have been disciplined to exercise at least four times each week. Early in those thirty years, I sometimes exercised every day. This has always been valuable for my physical and spiritual life.
Recently however, I have noticed a reduction in time given to spiritual formation. I have been convicted (recognizing at a deep level) that I should discipline my time allotments to provide as much time for spiritual formation as I provide for physical exercise. The time frame for one will depend on the time frame of the other!
While reading an article by Dallas Willard entitled “Spiritual Formation As A Natural Part of Salvation,” I came across a very interesting observation. Willard states, “It should be clear that we, with all our faults and failures, have an indispensable role in both discipleship and in spiritual formation….Once we are clear that the issue is no longer merit, but life – that grace is not opposed to effort, but to earning – this responsibility should cause no problem.”
Essentially God’s Spirit works in each individual, but the individual has the responsibility to take the intentional action to be disciplined. What are the disciplined actions you are taking that promote a godly life?
- Name a portion of your life that seems to have a disciplined nature to it. What are you doing to promote such discipline?
- While focusing on a specific disciplined action, develop the ability to have a conversation about the action you are training in. A conversation could include, “God, show me another way to actually complete this movement or task.” What kind of conversation do you need to have to encourage and motivate the next step of discipline?
- Think about one or two individuals who practice godly living. What are attributes they practice that result in godly timing?
- Remember Paul exhorted Timothy to reflect on all he had previously learned and to use that relationship with God to encourage his current training experience. What do you know that, if practiced, would inspire godly living?