a word to the wise
There is something nice and simple about athletics. What is the “main thing” or goal in athletics, and what might result if players on the field or court are confused about the
Paul, Timothy’s spiritual father, is being crystal clear with Timothy as to the “main thing” in life. Training in godliness is the main thing and the goal of life, if you want to have the life that you were created for. Paul goes on to explain that, similar to athletics, this training in godliness will require great effort and result in great reward, both in this life and the next!
1 Timothy 4:7-16
Read verses 6-7. Notice the phrase, “godless myths and old wives tales.” Paul is referring to all of the things that the world might say are the main thing in life. Talk about what the world might consider the main thing in life. What have you heard? What are people pursuing?
Read verses 7-9. Paul, Timothy’s spiritual father, is very clear with Timothy concerning
what the main thing is in life. What does Paul say the main thing is? How do you feel
about the phrase, “train yourself to be godly”?
Before we go any further, spend a moment and talk about sports. Talk about athletes. Talk about the difference between practice and a game and what it looks like to practice for a game. Talk about how important working hard in practice is if you want to play well.
Read verse 10. When Paul talks about laboring and striving, he is using an athletic metaphor. Athletes labor and strive in practice to be prepared for the game. What are some of the things that Jesus practiced regularly in order to play the game of life that he played?
Read verses 14-15. Paul uses the word diligent. Diligent in Greek (the language of the New Testament) means to practice. What kind of practice might you incorporate into your daily life in order to prepare to play life the way that Jesus played life?
Read verse 8. Notice the phrase “godliness has value in all things, in this life and the life to come.” Share how practicing some of the practices of Jesus could impact your game of life right now. Be specific. These may be areas of current difficulty.
Share the one thing that the Spirit of God seemed to bring to your mind or your heart during this discussion. Ask for prayer concerning that one thing.
We have been taught that becoming like Jesus should happen automatically. But, for most of the history of the church that idea was ridiculous! Grace is not the opposite of working, grace is the opposite of earning. We don’t earn or merit anything, but by grace, we work out our salvation. It does take some effort or (as Paul said) “striving.” Remember, these are athletic metaphors. Practice is important if we want to play well. So go for it. Develop a plan. Practice. It will involve some hard work, and there will be times of great enjoyment. We were created to play like Jesus.