“But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” I Timothy 4:7,8
There are no shortages of fitness centers, gyms, and places to workout in our area. Much time and money is spent on physical conditioning. Paul referenced bodily exercise in his letter to Timothy, but he placed the greater emphasis on being in good spiritual condition. The words he used were “exercise thyself rather unto godliness.”
What kind of shape are you in? Are we in good spiritual condition? Physical exercise does profit. But according the passage before us, there is a promise that spiritual exercise can affect every part of our lives.
We are challenged to exercise ourselves unto godliness. Spiritual exercise leads to godliness. Godliness is mentioned in both the verses we are considering. What does the Bible mean when it refers to godliness? Godliness is spirituality. It is being holy, or Christ like. Godliness is not the same as being religious.
God intends for us to live godly lives. Godliness has to do with our heart condition. It is about our attitude and our relationship to God. It is about personal holiness, godly desires, and spiritual priorities. Because a person says they are saved does not mean they have a relationship with God. Remember the Pharisees, they were religious but Jesus said they drew near to Him with their mouths, their hearts were far from Him.
Are you a godly person? Are you saved? The first step toward godliness is the new birth. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17) The new birth changes us spiritually from the inside out, and leads us in a godly direction. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world…” (Titus 2:11,12).
Does godly living characterize your life? Do your relationships, conversations and priorities reveal a bent toward godliness? A person who is truly converted should manifest an interest in spiritual growth and godliness. Are you living a godly life?
THE IMPACT OF GODLINESS
The passage we are focusing on reveals a great promise for the godly, “godliness is profitable unto all things.” The word "profitable" means helpful or advantageous. “Unto all things” would mean every area of our lives, every part of our lives will be affected or influence by our godliness or spirituality. Godliness does not just affect our worship or Christian service, but it will have a bearing on every part of our life.
We could safely say that the negative is also true. Ungodliness will also impact every area of our lives.
Our relationship with God, will have a meaningful impact on everything we do and all that we are. Our godliness will affect our emotional health. Peace of mind, joy, hope, confidence are all affected by our godliness. Godliness will likewise influence our vocational life, our family, our church relationships, our academic life, our financial well-being, even our physical health.
The best things we can do for our family is live a sincere godly life. The best step toward improving our personal finances is putting God first. If we really want emotional health, we should begin by letting God direct our thoughts and turning our burdens over to Him. Without the best employers or employees should be those who are walking close to God. Most church problems would disappear or become much more manageable if members walked in the Spirit.
The best thing we can do for ourselves and others is live a godly life. Many people are clueless as to what could make their life better.
I recall a conversation once with a man who came to our church office asking for some financial help. When I began to talk to him about his need for Christ he became agitated and unfriendly. He said, "I did not come here for a lecture. I just wanted some help.” He was not interested in the thing that could help, not his finances only, but every area of his life.
Godliness is profitable unto all things.
WHAT IS THE PATH TO GODLINESS?
Paul charged Timothy to “exercise thyself rather unto godliness.” Godliness is the result of spiritual exercise. Though we may not practice it, we understand the word exercise. It means to train, to work out, it means to get in better shape, to improve our fitness.
Paul referred in our text to this aspect of physical conditioning when he said, “bodily exercise profiteth little.” It certainly is beneficial. Walking, jogging, cardio, even golfing can profit us. Bodily exercise can reduce stress, lesson the chance of heart disease, burn calories, etc. It can help us loose weight, it can clear our mind of worry, and it can improve our physical health. Working our regularly could actually result in living better and us living longer.
Just as physical fitness requires exercise, spiritual fitness, godliness, demands exercise. If we intend to get in better shape, or stay in shape spiritually, there are some things we should consider.
Consistent exercise depends on a maintained interest in spiritual health. I can testify that on a number of occasions I have been interested in getting in better shape. Sometimes that desire has resulted in trips to the park or track to walk or time spent on an elliptical or tread mill. And, in the interest of transparency, that desire has even resulted in purchasing some piece of work out equipment. But owning a treadmill, or a few trips to the track, do not promise measurable results in one’s condition. Maintaining a healthy life style requires maintaining consistent exercise. The same could be said about exercising ourselves unto godliness. To do so we must maintain an interest in spiritual exercise. This must be a priority in our schedule. Godliness will profit us in every area of our lives, but we must put in the time in the spiritual gym to maintain spiritual health. It is something we must want to do. Perhaps as you read this, you could make this a “wake up” moment. That is the time when a person looks at himself or herself in the mirror and says, “Enough is enough.” I must get in better shape spiritually. This is not good for me or any one I care about. My spiritual negligence and laziness is causing me to waste my life. Say it now, “I must get in better shape spiritually.”
The second thing we need in winning this battle is a sincere commitment. We must be committed to an exercise regimen that endures. It will not always be convenient. We may not always feel like it. But spiritual progress must take place. As with physical exercise, the results will probably not be immediate. Read your Bible when you are tired. Pray when God does not seem to be near. Go to church when feel bad. Push yourself. When you make a mistake confess it immediately. When you have wronged someone, swallow your pride and apologize. When you don’t feel like worshipping, ignore your feelings, lift up your voice in song, and offer Him thanks. Keep pumping the weights when your flesh wants to take a day off. Make your spiritual growth your first priority.
Next, every serious trainee needs a trainer and a plan. Maybe having an accountability partner will help you with your exercise. Many people join a club or a diet program because the accountability helps them. In either case, decide what you need to be doing to exercise yourself unto godliness. Read your Bible daily, pray about everything, be faithful in church, serve the Lord through your church, become an encourager to others, be a generous and hilarious giver, etc. Develop a plan, make it specific, writer it down, and stay with it.
We must be consistent in our exercise if we hope to get in top shape spiritually. Being “hit and miss” with our exercise will not produce the spiritual results we need. It requires consistency. Training means practice, repetition, and drilling. We must keep working at it, choosing against our flesh, ignoring the voices that encourage us to put off our work out until later. We have to die daily, and many times during the day. How long do you plan to exercise spiritually? Let’s do it every day, every day for a week, then for a month and every month for a year and then for a decade. You get the point.
WHAT IS THE REWARD OF GODLINESS?
It is profitable for all things. Our text says that godliness offers “profit of the life that now is.” Godliness makes this life, the life on earth, the best it can be. Jesus promised us an abundant life here and now. “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”, (John 10:10). The devil wants to steal our life, but Jesus wants to make our lives more full and meaningful. Peter said, “For hew that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it” (I Peter 3:10, 11). God did not intend that life be lived selfishly, carnally, prideful, etc.
Godliness is also profitable for “that which is to come.” This life is the best life, lived as a follower of Christ. But this is not all there is. There is an eternity that awaits us. Our eternity will be directly affected by how we live now. We will be rewarded in heaven for our service to the Master. Our service for Him in the kingdom will be a result of how we have lived and served in this life. We can be certain that we will not regret the discipline, effort, and investment we have made in our spiritual conditioning.
“Godliness is profitable unto all things” therefore “exercise thyself rather unto godliness.”