…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. It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.
– 1 Timothy 4:7-10 (Paul writing to his helper Timothy)
Let’s start with the point that the passage makes at the end: God is the Savior of all men. No human being is excluded from the mercy of God; everyone is going to heaven. What then does Paul mean by the “especially of believers” phrase? That believers begin partaking of this salvation in this life and don’t put it all off until they die.
How then do believers begin partaking of this salvation? By becoming disciples of Jesus Christ – which means to be under His discipline and therefore beneficiaries of the rewards that come to disciples.
Is it fair that many people are unwilling to put themselves under the discipline of Jesus Christ and yet will still go to heaven when they die? We’ve already said that people go to heaven because of God’s mercy – if it’s a matter of mercy, what does fairness have to do with it? Can God not be as generous as He wants with what is His? You and I don’t deserve a place in heaven so what right do we have to complain if other people who don’t deserve a place get there, too?
Some people who don’t follow Jesus are willing to discipline themselves for the purpose of success in this life but Paul is talking about discipline “for the purpose of godliness.” We’re not opposed to earthly success. We’ll accept any that comes our way…but our goal is godliness.
Remember that this godliness has benefits in this life as well as in the life to come. This is where disciplining yourself in this life will benefit you in the life to come – and you’ll be glad that you didn’t decide to go along with the crowd who decided the discipline of Christ was just not worth the effort.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord Jesus, help me think of this day in terms of being more godly – that is, being more like You…(this is where you remain quiet to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.
(All scriptures, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the NASB.)