We constantly see and hear reference to athletes and other sportsmen being in training. For many, it is something they do daily, especially just before a competition, so as to to build up their muscles or other skills and bring them up to peak performance. During our lifetime we have seen new records being set again and again.
We thought of this as we read Paul’s advice to Timothy, “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 that is to come” [1 Tim.4 v.8], We must read over that verse again and fully absorb and see the reality of Paul’s point – indeed, memorise it.
How much effort do we put to that challenge to train ourselves for godliness? How do we do it? Many will answer ‘by reading the Bible every day’ True, but how do you and I read?
God’s word is food for the mind, it needs to be chewed over and its meaning fully absorbed – and then put into practice. The more we read, thoughtfully, meditatively, the more we realize the breadth of thought our minds and hearts need to absorb.
How much do we skim over it? It is so easy to do – and we do not notice spiritual malnutrition nearly so quickly and easily as physical malnutrition. Paul also told Timothy, “be a good servant of Jesus Christ being trained in the words of faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed” [v.6]
Athletes compare their abilities with each other, but that could, in a spiritual context be like comparing “lukewarm” attitudes. Our comparison should be with men like Titus and Timothy or women like Mary and Dorcas.
Finally, and most importantly, the “race” we are running is one in which we help each other, so that all receive the prize (read 1 Cor.9 v.24-27)