If you are a true Christian the longing will be there whether it displays as a small flame or a blazing fire. The issue we need to address is how to add fuel to this fire, sustain it and grow it over a lifetime. We can do this through spiritual disciplines, by forming lifestyle habits (the means) that lead us to being more like Jesus (the end goal). 2 Peter 1:3 tells us, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” When we are called to be his, we are also given everything we need to attain godliness. This is certainly good news!
So why do we need to pursue godliness? Keep reading. After Peter lists qualities that include faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness and brotherly love, he then says this in verse 8: “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” God wants these qualities (which can all be summed up as being godly) to increase in us so that we are effective and fruitful in our lives. This is gospel effectiveness and spiritual fruitfulness with the ultimate purpose being increased glory to God.
This is why Paul instructs Timothy to “train yourself for godliness” in 1 Timothy 4:7. The Greek word used for “train” in the original text is gymnazo, which translates “to exercise naked”. Yes, this gave me a smile when I looked it up but it makes great sense! We derive our word “gymnasium” from this Greek word. When we are working hard at something we throw off everything that may hinder us. Just like the athletes competing in the nude in the first Olympics, they did not want anything in the way of giving their best in hopes of winning. This idea is reflected for us in Hebrews 12:1, “let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”
We, as Christian women, need to lay aside the weights of this world and the sin that tries to entrap us and run the race God has set before us. This is what pursuing godliness looks like, working hard to be more like Jesus. “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God” (1 Timothy 4:9).
There is great hope in this endeavor, better than any fitness goal we could pursue, “for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8. The training for godliness we do in this life not only benefits us now, but it will also bring us reward for eternity - what a profound impact we are granted!
If this sounds like work to you, you are right. It is. Disciplined training should be intense (we shouldn’t think being like Jesus should be easy!). What we need to ask ourselves is this: is it worth it? You need to count the cost. Truly pursuing godliness may bring about: persecution, division in families, the end of friendships, the cutting away of worldly habits and hobbies, giving up possessions, it also takes time, energy and dedication. Is it worth it? Sorry, that is the wrong question. We have to ask, is He worth it? Is Jesus worth you devoting your life’s pursuit to? I will answer like Paul: “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” (Phil 3:8). Losing the world and gaining Christ. Yes, he is worth it.
Ladies, I encourage you to follow me on this mission of holiness. A purposeful quest to be more like Jesus as commanded in scripture. I will be using the book, Disciplines of a Godly Woman, by Barbara Hughes as a framework for the next 16 blogs I post (this blog covered chapter 1). We will hit on several topics such as the disciplines of prayer, of the mind, of contentment, of propriety, and of good deeds. Think of these as pathways by which we can encounter God. Follow along and let’s reap the benefits of training for godliness together.