“train yourself for godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7).
As we saw in chapters 1-2 in Disciplines of a Godly Young Man, discipline is everything! Those who are most skilled are the most dedicated, determined, and disciplined. No professional athlete is successful by accident—it takes practice, training, and perseverance to succeed. And it is this analogy—an athlete—that Paul uses to encourage us to “train for godliness”—to take the familiar disciplines of a physical workout and apply them to spiritual growth.
If you wanted to start training to get physically fit, you would need to develop a workout routine or schedule that incorporates many different types of exercises. You can’t just exercise one muscle or body part, but you need a full body workout. And the same applies spiritually—you must workout regularly, exercising all the different “spiritual disciplines,” such as Bible study, prayer, worship, service, evangelism, giving, fasting, etc. And not only must we actually workout, but we must also abstain from the sinful things that would hinder our spiritual growth, just as junk food, laziness, and poor health hinder physical fitness.
As R. Kent Hughes and W. Carey Hughes write,
“Men, we will never get anywhere spiritually without a conscious shedding of the things that are holding us back. What things are weighing you down? Your lusts? Your habits? Your attractions? Your fears? Your hatred? Your friends? Your girlfriend? The call of discipline demands that you throw them off. The question is: Are you man enough?” (22)
Guys, do you have a regular spiritual workout routine? If not, start today by reading through a book in the Bible and spending some time in prayer. What’s causing you to be spiritually out of shape? Identify it, and get rid of it! And like a physical workout, if it’s not scheduled, it probably won’t happen. Pick a time, pick some exercises, and go to the gym spiritually—“train yourself for godliness.”
“No manliness, no maturity! No discipline, no discipleship! No groans, no growth! No training, no triumph!” (22).