10-13-13 Training For A Gunny Sack Race

1 Timothy 4:6-10 “If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. 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. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”

John Calvin says that to “train yourself for godliness” is our “chief end, our sole labor, our proper operation”. A good cross-reference to this verse is Hebrews 5:14:

“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

For you and I to train ourselves for godliness, we must cultivate discernment; the constant practice of distinguishing between good and evil. This is what Paul is inferring by referencing bodily exercise.

The serious athlete has made it a practice to distinguish between what is good for his health and what is bad. He will decide to eat this and not that; to drink this and not that; to read this and not that; to go here but not there; to wear this but not that; to think this but not that; to do “A” and not “B” is the duty of every serious athlete. The art of discerning or distinguishing between good and bad makes Paul’s illustration poignant for our instruction.

The Christian is to train themselves for godliness in the same way that an athlete will train for the Olympics. What does your training program look like? Are you trying out for the spiritual olympics or an elementary school gunny sack race? We have no higher requirement of religion. God asks us no higher calling then toward godliness. Christ is the goal, the enabler, and the only hope toward this high and lofty call!

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