On holidays, I was reading a book titled, “Disciplines of a Godly man” by Kent Hughes. It is a book I have read before but it is well worth a second (or third) read. The book reminded me that godliness is something we as God’s people need to work hard at.
There are very few things in life that we can do well without hard work. Those who play footy (I will broaden the usage of the word to include a range of codes) need to train hard each week to ensure that they are match competitive.
Those who want to play music spend hours practicing – I remember my trumpet teacher once telling the joke of the man who asked how to get to the conservatorium – the reply was “practice, man, practice”. I think you get the point and we could spend all our time looking at examples of people who trained hard. (It is obvious I did not train as hard as I should with the trumpet)
If salvation is a gift from God, when it comes to our relationship with God should we be Christians who train hard? Of course we cannot earn our salvation – Eph 2:8-10 reminds us clearly that salvation is a gift from God that no amount of training will earn. However we read in 1 Timothy 4:7 that we should “train ourselves to be Godly”. – the word means some sort of strenuous toil – see also 1 Cor 9:25-27
Whilst salvation is certainly a gift from God, obedience to God (that is Godly living) is something we should be working hard at. You might remember a memory verse from Titus 2:11-13 “The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men (both man and woman) It teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self controlled, upright and Godly lives in this present age while we wait for the blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ” – what a great verse.
If we are to train at godliness this implies it is something we will need to work hard at it. Kent talk about “spiritual sweat”. The “great cloud of witnesses” from Heb 12 are people who have “sweated hard” at godliness in the past. The point of course is, are we sweating hard at godliness in the present?
The sad statistics point to a lazy western church that rarely reads the scriptures and rarely prays (my experience is that our prayer meeting is the smallest gathering in the church). Rather than look at others, what about ourselves – Do you aim to read God’s word daily? What Christian book are you reading at present? What will cause you to miss a church gathering with your Christian friends around the word of God? Who are you planning to share the gospel with (a family member, a friend, a neighbour …)?
There are lots of questions and some times we do not like the way they probe us and unsettle us. So whilst you are unsettled – here are a few more – What is taking the place of your “training for Godliness”? What is weighing you down ? What is it that you need to throw off? – see Heb 12:1
Space will not permit much more but as your brother in Christ and also as your pastor, can I encourage you to “sweat hard for God”. (by the way, the book is on the resource shelf)