Everyone understands that exercise is a good thing for the body. Moving the physical muscles in a labor by lifting weights or traveling some distance is good. However, sitting on a couch watching a TV takes much less effort. I put a fitness tracker on my dog. Now I know that sounds crazy but it actually helps me move more. Let me explain. My dog averages about 15k steps a day and how many steps he gets above that 15k is directly related to me putting the leash on him and taking him for a walk. I am more likely to take him for a walk vs crashing on the couch at the end of the day if I know he is dependent on me. The benefit to exercise is more urgent if I am doing it to help someone other than myself. There is a truth there spiritually as well.
Paul in his letter to the junior apostle Timothy notes that physical exercise has value but we are so much more than just physical beings. We are also spiritual and exercising our spiritual nature in godliness is of greater value than even exercising our own bodies.
Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 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 4:7-8 ESV
Our physical bodies no matter how we exercise and eat healthy foods will still one day die. Healthy living might buy 5 years or at most maybe 20 years? Yet that is temporary gain for the here and now. Paul pulling in a godly perspective notes that spiritual exercise benefits us now and in the life to come. Spiritual exercise is a win win.
We all know what physical exercise looks like. What then does spiritual training in godliness look like? Before I answer that let me define terms. What is godliness? Godliness is respect towards God. So let me ask the main question again. What then does spiritual training in respect toward God look like? Our spiritual exercise is about training our minds, our heart, and our life in respect toward God.
Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. 1 Timothy 4:7a ESV
Refuse to trade in conspiracies and stories that are simply not true. Social media like Facebook and twitter are full of people trading in mindless junk to support their views of the world. It happens in two ways. First way is creating a myth of a life that does not exist. The pictures we post of family and food that create a false image of who we are is the opposite of respecting God. We lie to others and ourselves. Second is stats and quotes that validate our own views of the world usually through a political lens. Most of these memes are taken out of context and have only a partial truth. These irreverent and silly myths are done to perpetuate outrage and do nothing to respect God even if one thinks they are defending God by pushing untruths.
that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 1 Timothy 2:2b ESV
Godliness exercised in the life of a believer is a peaceful, quiet, and dignified life when possible as much as it can be controlled by the believer. This is not a life prone to outbursts of anger, lust, or stirring up of others for their own amusement (There may be a time to fight but it is rare). The greatest godliness exercised in real life is not a preacher but the family who lives day by day disciplined and devoted to God and what is important to him. A person living in godliness WILL appear out of touch with the world around them. In new setting with new people, I never walk in an say hello everyone I am a Christian. Yet somehow that vibe flows off and everyone always seems to recognize my respect toward God. It comes out in my speech, my diligence, my lack of drama, and my overall approach to life.
3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. 1 Timothy 6:3-4 ESV
Finally, godliness must be exercised inside the biblical truths that God has given. With Godliness being a respect toward God then one must learn and understand who God is and what his expectations are toward people. Godliness then requires a devotion to a sound local church where one can learn, be encouraged, and serve others. Just like I am more likely to get up and exercise for my dog so I am more likely to exercise my Godliness in serving others in a local church. Godliness is learning to live a life that is less about “Me” and more about organizing life around God even when it is detrimental to my own desires.