“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.
“Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 1 Timothy 4:6-16
All the Christian life is rigorous; the only rest is in Christ. Paul’s exhortation to young Timothy is to keep on as a good servant in constant training. As physical training for a sport is beneficial and necessary to enable competition, training in godliness prepares us for our days on earth and our eternity in heaven. Our goal as Christians is not victory here, but Christ Himself here and there. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Train, toil, strive, command, teach, set an example, exercise, practice, devote yourself, persist. Every command is active, dynamic. As Christ’s servants, we are never to be spiritually sedentary, given to apathy or sloth. As His children, we are bound by duty to obey, and our efforts reflect on the family name. There is no giving up, no retirement for His followers.
The Lord has appointed and anointed us each with gifts, and prepared good works for us to do. Every one of us is distinct, each has a job to do with what we have been specifically entrusted. We are here to serve Him and His will, not ourselves or our own, and our call is to be good at this service; excellence reflects Him. (Romans 12:3-8; Ephesians 2:10)
Weariness may come if we set our own goals and exert our plans in our own strength. Paul reminds here that the goal is Jesus, who is our hope who strengthens us. We may grow weary in the work, but He will supply sufficiently in our weakness so we never need weary of His work. (2 Corinthians 12:9; Galatians 6:9; Philippians 4:19; 2 Thessalonians 3:13)
Are we as scrupulous in sacred training as we are for earthly endeavors? How conscientious are we in maintaining spiritual disciplines in order to know the Lord Jesus through His word and communion in prayer? Are we as careful to guard our time with Him as we are to keep other appointments, to do His kingdom work as we would work for our own benefit?
Lord, train me in godliness. Shape my will to do Your work, and with rigor and zeal, to be more like You. (John 4:34)