We all know that physical exercise is part of a good and healthy lifestyle. Recently I have been attending the local gym and getting into a routine that requires commitment, lots of energy, and time. This level of commitment began to have a strain on other things in my life and as a result I took a 2 week break from the gym.
Unfortunately, that break turned into 4 weeks. The time to ‘go to the gym’ was eventually squeezed out of my ‘life timetable’ – it has lost its place and is replaced by other things instead. Does it matter? Surely physical exercise comes in all different forms, walking, cycling, football, cricket etc. Do I need to go back to the gym? How do I get back into a rhythm of doing 30mins on the bike or 20 mins at level 15 on a cross-trainer? To begin with – it’s going to be hard – but eventually I’ll get back into the habit.
Paul wrote these verses to his young apprentice Timothy:
Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, 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 Tim 4:7-8).
Paul reminds Timothy about his priorities – training yourself to be godly. It is amazing how physical exercise, Marathons, Football, Rugby, Tennis etc, have become an idol or ‘mini god’ in people’s lives. They become part of the ‘ timetable of life’ and tend to replace spiritual growth and faith. I want to be clear, all these are great things and God created all things to be good (as Paul reminds us earlier in 4:4-5), but when they become a priority over our commitment to the Lord, we must remember what is more important – getting a hat-trick on Sunday – or growing and living in hope of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ?
Physical training has value but growing in godliness is vital. Physical training has a limit, our bodies wear out – eventually our bodies will die – but growing in our spiritual life, growing in our ability to pray, depending more of our lives by faith in Jesus, reading and shaping our lives by the Bible, God’s Word, we are living our current life in obedience to the Lord, including our physical exercise; and we are preparing for eternal life promised to those who have faith in Jesus. When we get out of the ‘habit’ of gathering to worship or when it is squeezed out of the timetable – it is difficult to get back into a rhythm, our training in godliness suffers. We get blinded by our sin and the world around us that we forget about what Jesus has done with our sins on the cross.
It is so easy to conform to the world, to listen to myths, olds wives tales and get carried along with the crowd to Decathlon and Sports Direct and forget to gather with your brothers and sisters to worship the living God. It is vital to offer our prayers to our Father, to be taught from the Word through Jesus the Son and go out to witness by the power of the Holy Spirit, to nourish, encourage and grow each other as the body of Christ, the church.
Focus on your godly training, get back into godly ‘habits’ and be a real witness to the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ.