Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 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.
This passage is suggestive of avoiding certain things, and working at the one thing of being godly. Even in a training sort of way. Important for us in an age of entertainment and avoidance of religious activity with the idea more or less of being natural and authentic.
But I want to zero in a little on the thought that godliness is not just good for the life to come, but also for the present life. People tend to look at God as a killjoy. And when it comes to what turns us on so to speak in our sin, God is indeed a killjoy. God is the God of all grace, but God isn’t going to shield someone forever from sinful choices they make. There are consequences because we’re failing to live in the way humans are meant to live, in a relationship of love with God and with each other.
People often live under the delusion that if they only had more of this world, or something they don’t have, then all would be well. They would indeed have found the good life. One needs look no farther than Hollywood to realize that so many there live a lifestyle of going from one marriage or relationship to the next. And we see the lives of the quite well to do and we often find them having little time for God or for much more than living the good life as they understand it, and seeking to accumulate more wealth.
All of that to say that we’re told in this scriptural passage that godliness has value in this present age. And that is to actually be an incentive for us to train ourselves to be such. We can so easily go off track into wanting what the world wants, giving in to sinful desires which as Peter tells us, war against one’s soul. Instead as Paul tells us here, we’re to no less than train ourselves to be godly.
For me this means working first and foremost on my relationship with God through Jesus. That means I do take time out to be in the word and prayer. And in fellowship with others in Jesus. And to work at doing well in life by God and by others. This will include times of repentance when we do get off track. This is an all day endeavor. Not confined to a sacred time; all of life and time being sacred, yet in a human, natural orientation, yes, for this life.
If we learn to follow the directives of scripture such as we find here, and grow in that, we will do well in God’s eyes through Jesus in this life. And our taste for what is good will change. What once hit us as good, as well as what was most unpleasant to us will change. We will begin to love what we once hated, and hate what we once loved. In subtle as well as not so subtle ways we will change. But all of this from God, and not something we can do ourselves. A matter of grace. Yet at the same time we must choose to put ourselves in that position, and at times go back to it (as well as continue the practice), in which God can do his good work in our hearts and lives in changing us into the image of his Son, Jesus.
So let us not shun religious training toward godliness. Of course it’s not natural to us in our sickness in sin. But God can give us his health so that others might see Jesus in us. And that our lives might show forth God’s goodness to others as we simply learn to live with others in the godliness of the way of Jesus.
For a view of what this godliness actually is and involves, it would be good to read the entire letter quoted above. Though a pastoral letter, one can gather easily from it something of the good life in Jesus, the life we are meant to live.