“. . . Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:7c-8.
We live in a society which puts such a ridiculous emphasis on the body. Look at all the nutritional supplements, weight loss plans, steroid use, plastic surgeries, and the overwhelming amount of magazine, TV and Internet images. We are told we need to have certain types of muscle definition, figure, and facial contour to be successful.
Our young people grow up with a pressure (that I never had) to look a certain way. Our society defines us most often by our bodies. With this comes a heavy emphasis on getting our bodies in shape.
Having said all that, taking care of ourselves, disciplining ourselves to exercise, eat well, and have good hygiene are important. These disciplines show we care about our health and others. Certainly, studies show those who are physically healthier are often more productive and happy.
But what if we put that type of emphasis on building character? What if we had commercials and articles about the beauty of godly character, or the attractiveness of integrity? Unfortunately, I fear there would not be a lot of interest or desire towards such pursuits. Society, by and large, does not value the disciplines needed to build character and integrity.
As I read 1 Timothy 4:7-8, I am reminded that physical disciplines do have benefit, but in comparison to godly disciplines, a distant second. A Christian should be one who values the internal above the external, the building of godly character over the preoccupation with body image. Do you discipline yourself to be godly? Some may even not know what that means.
Godly disciplines are efforts made to help us live like God wants. Godly disciplines lead to godly character and a life of integrity. This is not automatic. This takes intentional effort.
Here are some disciplines I believe the Bible sets forth, and I know have helped me in seeking to develop consistent godly behavior and a life of integrity (although I certainly have a long way to go).
• Daily Bible reading and reflection
• Prayer specific
• Scripture memory
• Daily encouragement of at least one other person
• Regular worship with other believers
• Sharing God’s work in my life with others
• Ordering my life to avoid temptation
• Accountability from close friends
Each of these contributes to becoming spiritually stronger to becoming the person God wants me to be. My contributions to my family, church, and community depend on my pursuit of godly character, which is developed by godly disciplines.
Godliness has value for and in all things. So, if we want to be a better spouse, parent, employee, coach, community member, or citizen, we must discipline ourself to be godly!
Continue or begin to order your life around disciplines that lead you to godly character and experience a greater fulfillment and impact in your life.