“…exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”
1 Timothy 4:7-8
Jesus drew many truths of the Kingdom of God from everyday life. Whether it was the woman giving her last coin or another woman finding her lost coin, laborers in the day of harvest, or the shepherd leaving the 99 sheep to go after the one, He was attentive to His Father’s truth all around Him. In like manner, Paul found inspiration in the athletes training for the Greek games of that day.
Let us look at several parallels in the Word of God used to portray a healthy Christian life.
“Exercise thyself unto godliness…”
1 Timothy 4:7
Those who are in Christ Jesus know there is an effort and investment required to grow in His graces. There is an intentional pressing into Him necessary for the development of His character within. The scriptures are full of exhortations concerning this powerful truth.
The Greek word translated “exercise” refers to the athletes who trained in order to win a crown. Paul refers to this in his first epistle to the Corinthians:
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (ESV)
In Hebrews this same word refers to those who “by reason of use, have their senses “exercised” to discern good and evil”. The strong meat of the Word is for those who continually train their spiritual “senses” to know the spirit and the heart of those who minister in God’s Holy name. One may hold or share a deep teaching yet be bereft of the truth and power of it.
“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil”
Peter uses this same word concerning those who have “exercised” themselves in greediness and covetousness.
“They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!” (exercised KJV)
1 Peter 2:14
Where are these people found?
“They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you.”
2 Peter 2:13
The gifts of discernment are vital to our ability to walk in truth. There are those in the house of God where His people meet who do not walk in the Spirit of God. (Read Jude).
Another place this Greek word is used is found in Hebrews 12:11:
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
Hebrews 12:11(exercised KJV)
The true and yielded heart is “exercised” in submission to God’s corrections. The “peaceable fruit of righteousness” is found in those who take heed to His corrections. Those who live by declarations of truth but refuse to be trained by His admonitions and exhortations deprive themselves of the true righteousness.
It is an “exercise” to willingly submit that we may gain the incorruptible crown offered to those who conduct their lives according to His truth.
“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible”
1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (KJV)