January 25, 2021

Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:7-8 NLT

In the varied fields of athletics, we hear stories of people who seemed to just be “a natural.” We hear about the kid ball player who seemed to shoot the basketball with no effort, or he was kicking field goals, throwing for touchdowns, and catching every pass. Perhaps it was a kid who had a natural swing and could hit the ball over the fence nearly every time he came up to bat. But if you follow those stories, the only ones who made a successful career of it couldn’t succeed on natural talent alone. They sacrificed countless hours while their friends were having fun. They wore blisters on their hands swinging the bat or on their feet trying to gain one more second of speed. They had the opportunity given to them, but to be anywhere near what their potential said they could be, ongoing training for the long haul was necessary.

Back in the days when the Cincinnati Reds were the “Big Red Machine,” my husband and I lived in Cincinnati. We could get into the games for one dollar as local pastors and get our pick of leftover seats. Pete Rose was a big star, and he had already won many titles and awards for his skill. My husband and brother would love to hang around after the games to get players’ autographs. But they always had to wait to get one from Pete Rose. Why? Because even as an all-star, he was still training. He stayed after every game and did his own batting practice. Long after everyone else had left, he was still on the field, practicing, training to be better for games yet to come.

It’s counterintuitive, isn’t it? We would think there would be a time when the best hitter on the team could just go home and the lesser players would stay and train. But no one made the players stay—and Pete was the only one who did. His training made him rise to the top.

Because salvation is free and ours for the asking, it’s easy to believe that we’re “naturals” at following Jesus. He chose us, after all. God is God, and when we come to Him, maybe He’ll just do something supernatural and almost magical for us to reach our potential. But it’s not that way. We are to TRAIN for godliness. Paul tells Timothy in a letter to the young leader, someone handpicked to lead with potential for greatness, “Forget about the many distractions—train yourself to be godly. It’s far better than a physical workout. The benefits of this training are for right now and the future.” It’s a lifelong commitment.

  • God does not do for us what we need to do for ourselves. We have been given an opportunity to live great, magnificent, impactful lives. But it’s not magic. It involves training, discipline, and sacrifice. Where do you need to be training today?