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Reflections for the New Year-bodily exercise has some value but godliness is profitable for all things (1 Tim. 4:8)
Created by Jon Taylor - Monday 02 Jan 2017
Jon Taylor
Reflections for the New Year-bodily exercise has some value but godliness is profitable for all things (1 Tim. 4:8)
 

Bodily exercise is wholesome, commendable and profitable. Increased longevity, improved health, a break from mental exertion and other activities, to list a small shortlist of benefits are good for us. But their value is restricted to our days on earth, while godliness has exponential far-long lasting value and is immeasurably worthwhile.
 
Physical and Spiritual Exercise
 
The athlete will train hard and improve through gradually increasing the frequency, duration and intensity of their training. They will pay attention to their diet, be careful to whose advice and expertise they consider and weigh carefully concerning how it will affect their performance and they must rest to avoid overtraining and burnout. A godly life requires fellowship, prayer, bible reading, meditation upon God’s word and self-examination for the purpose of pursuing godliness, sharing the gospel, and at times, sitting and resting awhile from the continual and challenging demands of ministry.
 
Whilst we should be careful not to make a religion out of physical fitness, care for one’s body does have an honourable place in Scripture and our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor.3:16; 6:19).[i] Moreover we should avoid neglecting, overindulging or idolizing our bodies.[ii] It is worth remembering that Paul walked the Roman roads throughout the Roman Empire and the Ephesians were a people given over to games and athletics.[iii]Rather than dismissing the value of sports and athletics, Paul challenged Timothy to be devoted to godliness as an athlete is to his sport.[iv]
 
For those believers who love sports, games and athletics this is a meaningful and relevant application and would be a great New Year’s resolution. For those believers who aren’t so keen on the same it remains a tremendous and helpful image to continue running the race of faith while paying attention to disciplines necessary for spiritual growth. Basically it helpfully reminds all believers when we see squads or teams in action that there are spiritual exercises that we should be doing (Heb. 5:14).[v]
 
Avoid Distractions
 
A discerning sportsperson will avoid ridiculous gimmicks that make outrageous claims to raise one’s game without putting the work or the practise in. In 1Timothy 4:7, the good servant of the Lord is wise to refute profane and old wives fables and is encouraged to exercise towards godliness. In a similar way to how the Sermon on the Mount in the synoptic gospels precedes with ‘take heed that no one deceives you’ ( Matt. 24:3; Mark 13:5; Luke 21:8 ), we are reminded before embarking in godly activity to avoid getting caught up, as the Amplified Bible expounds ‘godless fictions, mere grandmother tales-and silly myths’.
 
In contemporary western cultures that can equate to avoiding spurious ideas such as the gospel in the stars, making exact predictions for the Lord’s second coming, developing an unhealthy preoccupation with gnostic gospels or the apocrypha and not chasing after or entertaining spiritual fads that fall flat as quickly as they gain a following.  The settings in which these distractions arise are all too often easily accessible online, based on hearsay, have no substance and are theories involving conjecture that are not rooted in Scripture but consist of  misguided interpretation which is either forced upon the text or opposed to it. These ideas are succulent to those who have itching ears or who want to hear the latest thing and for those who are ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth.
 
Nourish yourself on God’s Word
 
These unhelpful diversions steal time, energy and cause division and need to be nipped in the bud quickly. Prevention is better than cure and 1Timothy 4:6 reminds us to be nourished in the words of faith and of good doctrine. The dedicated athlete needs to eat a balanced diet and reject junk food. Exercising in godliness involves feeding on God’s work regularly. Reading Scripture daily and working through Scripture systematically is a great blessing, grounding us in the faith and the more we become familiar with it, the easier it will be to recognise profane and old wives fables for what they are. Memorising Scripture helps us to be able to apply truth positively and to detect error swiftly. If we were to substitute fifteen minutes TV or internet usage a day we could read the Bible in a year. That said we must also take the time to meditate on God’s word and to consider matters in detail and pray through Scripture. We can also examine ourselves using Scripture to assess our thoughts, attitudes and our motives.
 
Spend Time with God’s People
 
An athlete often has a training circle or friends and coaching staff, physios, nutritionist etc. Fellowship is a must (Heb. 10:25). Being with God’s people helps us to encourage, learn and serve one another. The body requires dependency on other parts to function properly. Christ is the head and without Him we can do nothing. Keeping company with godly people is something to be continually conscious of and to be grateful for, as iron sharpens iron. Conversely bad company corrupts good habits.
 
Pray continually
 
Prayer to the Christian is like oxygen for the athlete. We will accomplish little without prayer. Prayer must be according to God’s will and aligned to His purposes. We need to pray at all times and in all circumstances and without ceasing. Prayer is frequently accompanied by a terrific battle against our flesh as we ask for God’s help concerning our concentration, will and desire to please Him and forsake our carnal desires. Whether we are willing to admit it, we do have time for prayer and we cannot function as we should without it.
 
Witnessing to others
 
There is a tremendous blessing in sharing the gospel with others. Not only does it explain the gravity and plight of the sinful human condition and the means of salvation by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but it also strengthens our faith and increases our reliance upon God. We must pray and desire for the opportunities to share faith and go to others. Many unless they are invited will never or rarely set their foot inside a church building so we must go to them with the good news.
 
Do remember to rest
 
Finally we must schedule time to rest. Though the training regime of top sportspeople invariably involves a relentless quest, we must factor in rest. No rest is simply counterproductive and a prudent amount of rest enables more to be carried out. Though we are sustained by God, we are mortal and should remember that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). From the eternal perspective for those that know Him, there remains therefore a rest for the people of God (Heb. 4:9). So for this New Year, be industrious and dedicated to the Lord as the athlete is to training and makes the necessary sacrifices, but for your own sakes and

[i] David Stern Jewish New Testament Commentary (Jewish New Testament Publications Inc, Clarksville; 1992),p645
[ii] Ibid, p645
[iii] J. Vernon McGee Thru The Bible Commentaries First and Second Timothy Titus Philemon (Thomas Nelson, Nashville; 1991), p64-65
[iv] Warren W. Wiersbe The Wiersbe Bible Commentary NT (David C. Cook, Colorado Springs; 2007), p760
[v] Ibid, p761

   
Monday 02 Jan 2017