Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for . . . godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
–1 Timothy 4:7-8
Becoming a carnal Christian is natural. If you do nothing, the natural course of life will pull you toward carnality. So what can you do to grow as a Christian and avoid the dangers of carnality?
The cure for carnality is diet and exercise. Last week, we saw that we get the right spiritual diet by regularly taking in the meat of God’s Word. And we exercise spiritually by finding a place of service and by obeying what we know to be true, even if it causes us pain. Maybe God has told you about a relationship that needs to be abandoned, but you do not want to do it because of how hard that would be. Maybe there is an addiction that has enslaved you, but you do not want to give it up because it is providing some kind of fulfillment for you. Maybe you know you should start tithing to the Lord’s work, but you do not want to do it because it would be too costly.
The way we grow in the Christian life is by doing those things that are painful, not those things that are easy. In 1 Timothy 4:7-8, Paul said, “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.” The word translated as “discipline” is the same word from which we get “gymnasium.” Paul was saying if you discipline your spirit for godliness like you discipline your body for fitness, you will have an even greater payoff. Why? Because one day your body is going to deteriorate and die, but you are going to carry your spirit with you for eternity.
In his book “Odyssey,” John Scully described his journey from working at PepsiCo to becoming CEO of Apple. He talked about the discipline of the PepsiCo executives, whose desire to succeed extended to their fitness: “The culture demanded that each of us be in top condition, physically fit as well as mentally alert. At lunchtime, the glass-walled corporate fitness center was packed with the rising stars of the corporation. Like me, they were the kind of people who would rather be in the Marines than in the Army. Even our exercise regimens became part of the competition.”
Those executives were willing to pay whatever price necessary to succeed at their jobs. What about you? Are you willing to spend whatever time necessary, exert whatever effort necessary, and endure whatever pain necessary to grow in your relationship with Christ? The cost of success in spiritual growth is great; the cost of failure is even greater.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Growing Up by Growing Strong” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.
John Scully, “Odyssey” (New York: Harper & Row, 1987), 6.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.