Training looks really awesome in the movies.
Picture Rocky Balboa, jogging around Philadelphia in his gray sweatsuit. He’s sprinting and giving high fives; little children are cheering him on… all with Gonna Fly Now playing in the background. Finally, he runs up the 72 steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, bounces around at the top and raises his hands in triumph. Yes!
This is nothing like my “runs” (which typically include a shameful amount of walking). It’s nothing like any of my training experience, for that matter; whatever the sport, the drills were always repetitive. Real-life training is hard and tedious.
But if we’re going to rise to any challenge, we need to train hard so we can be strong.
If we’re going to win any match we need to train repetitively so the necessary actions become instinctive. How can we become accomplished without training?
Godliness is no exception. The first letter written to Timothy encourages that young minister to “train yourself in godliness” (4:7).
There’s no Christian Olympics we’re training for (thank goodness), but every day we’re faced with choices that feel like little matches. In those moments, we can act like servants, or we can expect to be served. We can be ministers of Christ showing God’s love to the world, or we can be of the world showing competitiveness and hate. The choices we make largely depend on how we’ve trained ourselves.
“Train yourself in godliness…”
I took piano for at least 10 years growing up. Every week, Mrs. Harrington would come to our house and coach me. Every week she would tell me, “Mary Catherine, you’ve got to practice.” Sometimes I’d have good intentions, sometimes I’d have no intention at all; the end result was mostly the same. I never practiced. I never trained.
After 10 years of lessons, I should be an accomplished pianist. Instead, I can barely plunk along with my right hand. I sure wish I had trained more.
I don’t want to feel that way about my relationship with God.
“Train yourself in godliness” through things like prayer, reading Scripture, going to worship, giving tithes, and fasting.
If you’ve never done any of those things before, find someone Christ-like you admire and let them “set an example” for you (1 Tim. 4:12). Ask them how they train, how they grow closer to God. Let them coach you in the faith.
“Train yourself in godliness,”
and in turn,
you will become an example yourself.