training ourselves unto godliness

Paul tells Timothy that while physical training has some value, godliness has value for all things both in the present, and in the age to come. Value for all things.

Godliness carries the meaning of being like God in character. Theologians have spoken of God’s communicable attributes, in others words those aspects of God’s character which he has created, and now recreates in Jesus, in us humans. In Jesus by God’s grace through faith we enter into new life. Of course we have to grow in this new life. From no less than infant stage toward full maturity in Christ. This is actually meant to be a joint venture, not a lone one. We are in this together with others. And yet we are responsible as individuals first for ourselves. Babies need help, as do toddlers. But there comes a time when more and more a person is on their own. There is the so-called age of accountability. And as an adult, each is expected to carry their own load, as a rule. Helping and receiving help when needed.

Do we think in terms of godliness? In other words, do we measure our thoughts, attitudes, spirit, words, deeds, aspirations, goals, etc., by whether or not they are godly? Or is something less than that driving us? Do we have understanding as to something of what godliness is, what it is like, what characteristics are part of it, what its source is, what really constitutes godliness?

Jesus gets at the essence of it when he lets us in on the first and greatest commandment along with the second that is like it: to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Everything else is said to hang on these commands. So love out of a pure heart, with a good conscience, and a sincere faith, as we read elsewhere, this is the goal to which all of us in Jesus are to aspire.

Training carries with it the idea of surmounting difficulties, getting to the place where we are more than conquerors through Jesus who loved us. The latter thought comes in the context of understanding the great salvation that is ours in Jesus (Romans 8). Training itself involves understanding, and it involves a faith that is active, seeking God’s face and his will for our lives in Jesus. Endeavoring, however clumsily, to learn to walk in his way. In following Jesus.

Of course this takes time. And yet as we begin on it, God will help us, no matter what the obstacles. In fact the obstacles can end up being the means used by God to make us stronger in our faith, in our trust and confidence in God and his promises to us in Jesus. Not just for us, but together in Jesus for the world.

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