Commit to training, not trying
We are two months into a brand new year; have you done much to shed those unwanted “pandemic” pounds or get into better shape yet? At the start of the new year, most of us at least think about getting into shape, but far fewer of us actually do anything about it. During our series, Best Practices, we have been learning about what we can do to get into better spiritual shape… to live a God-honoring life!
To get into better shape physically or spiritually, we must be committed to training! If I want to shed pounds, strengthen my muscles, including my heart, training is key. When the Apostle Paul wrote to his young protege’ Timothy, he compared the value of physical training to spiritual training or “godliness.” 8 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 4:8
Anything challenging to do in life will require training, even if you are a “natural.” Even the greatest athletes in the world must train to get better at their sport. As a runner in high school, I was far from great or elite, but to get faster, I had to train hard, even though I would have rather just showed up for track meets and “tried” really hard. Unfortunately, trying hard didn’t make me a better, faster runner. I had to train!
The same is true for us as Christ-followers. If we are serious about being more like Jesus - living a God-honoring life - training, not just trying, is essential. That is why we have been learning more about best practices or spiritual disciplines that will help us to become more like Christ.
In his first letter to the church in Corinth, Paul teaches about the importance of “strict training”. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9:25
Sports/athletics was big entertainment in Corinth and to Paul’s audience, kind of like it is in the U.S. today! Corinth was the host to the Isthmian Games, which were second only to the Olympic Games. Many think that Paul was likely in Corinth during the 51 AD games and may have actually made some tents for competitors and visitors for those games. Paul, and those to whom he wrote, knew that competitors in those games went into months of strict training to compete. He wanted Christ-followers to understand how important it was to continue to train to be more like Jesus!
I stopped running competitively a long time ago; but I’m still training to be more like Jesus, to live a God-honoring life. It will be a life-long pursuit for me. I am still learning more about offering forgiveness… about experiencing joy… and hope… and peace… and grace… and mercy. God is still teaching me and transforming me into the fully devoted disciple He longs for me to be; and the same is true for you too!
The best practices/spiritual disciplines that we have been learning about in the series will help us to train in godliness! If you have missed any message in this series, go back and learn more about…
Part 1: The Practice of Rejoicing to celebrate every day God gives you!
Part 2: The Practice of Praying because prayer matters and prayer changes things!
Part 3: The Practice of Pacing to slow down and focus on what matters most!
Part 4: The Practice of Confessing to receive the forgiveness and grace we long for!
Part 5: The Practice of Studying to learn more about obeying God and following Jesus.
Part 6: The Practice of Listening to hear God speak and follow His will for your life.
Part 7: The Practice of Enduring to persevere through the hardships in life.
Part 8: The Practice of Serving to bless others and to be blessed.
They can all be found under BestPractices.
Click here to listen to Best Practices - Part 9 - The Practice of Training to learn more about why it is imperative to not just try to follow Jesus, but to train to follow Jesus!