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“Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7b,8).
The Golden Gate Bridge was built in just over four years from 1933-1937 during the Great Depression. A rough estimate of the $76 million dollars the bridge cost (including interest) in 1933 is over $1.2 billion in 2007 dollars. Some 60,000 southbound toll paying vehicles cross the bridge daily at $8.00 per car (some $40.00 for trucks). Do the math and that generates a lot of income.
When any amount of fee is this large there’s a lot of people who wonder where all the money goes (the original cost of the bridge with interest has been paid off since 1971). However I don’t live there so the $8.00 I paid to cross back into the city was worth it as a tourist visiting every ten years or so!
However, undoubtedly a lot of money is required for maintenance. The bridge is constantly being maintained. When we walked across the bridge there were workers performing maintenance work under a tarp (see photo above)*. With exposure to the harsh elements the bridge is certainly not “maintenance-free”.
“Maintenance-free” is a quality we value in life. We especially see this term used in building materials. We have brick over several sides of our home which requires very little maintenance and vinyl siding over other parts and these components may be considered maintenance-free and last my lifetime but certainly not forever!
We’d like to be in a condition where our lives are maintenance-free but that would be a figment of our imagination. From conception on our lives have required maintenance. The same is true for our spiritual nature.
The daily Scripture portion is an allusion to sports. Paul writes, “train yourself to be godly”. The NASV uses an expression that has blessed me over the years, “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.”
Surely the apostle Paul is speaking here of maintaining the spiritual development and disciplines we volitionally participate in that contribute to a growth in godliness. This maintenance includes Bible reading and study, Scripture memorization, prayer and praise, church participation, Christian service and other forms of spiritual discipline.
“Train” translates the Greek word (gumnaze) from which we get the English word “gymnastics”. It indicates a present, ongoing action we participate in and is strongly enjoined upon us.
The verse continues, “Physical training is of some value”. Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit so properly caring for our physical nature is a means of glorifying God.
But comparatively speaking physical training is of little value in relation to spiritual training expressed in the phrase, “Godliness has value for all things”. Godliness impacts every area of our personal life; our family, our church, our work and our society at large. And this godliness holds “promise for both the present life and the life to come”.
A linguistic resource I use has a powerful thought on this point: “It is not the self-centered aesthetic struggle of the individual for his own moral and religious perfection, but the training necessary for the unhindered pursuit of God’s purposes. This exercise was a vigorous development and application of all Paul’s strength and ability that he might bring glory to God with every thought and action.” *2
Today I encourage you to recognize that your life, both physical and spiritual is not maintenance-free. We must “exercise self-control in all things” (1 Corinthians 9:25) and “train yourself to be godly”. A foundational component of this maintenance is the implementation of God’s Word to our hearts so that it is carried out in our actions. Remember, in regard to the pursuit of godliness, we are always in maintenance mode!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we know there is a deeper work within our soul which cannot be accomplished by mere physical exercise. Just as we maintain our bodies to submit to a rigorous routine of endurance, abstinence, and sacrifice, we must apply the same maintenance tools to bring our spirits into submission to Your will for our lives. We must train ourselves to be godly. Though physical training is of value in this life, godliness has value for all things, and holds promise not only for the present life but also the life to come. Help us to pursue this noble task in Jesus name we pray. Amen.
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