Practice Makes Permanent
“…train yourself for godliness.”
— 1Timothy 4:7 ESV
“We cannot attain or earn this righteousness…; it is a grace that is given…The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that he can transform us.”
— Richard Foster
The shortstop made a crazy play, flipping the ball to the second baseman who rifled it to first. A perfect double play to end what could have been a disastrous inning. Someone sitting in the stands commented on how these 17-year-old boys made the play look easy. One of the dads who helped coach responded, “That’s because they’ve practiced that play thousands of times! It’s become second nature to them.”
It’s been said, “Practice makes perfect”. That is not entirely true. Practice
makes permanent. Do it over and over again incorrectly, and you have simply developed a bad habit. “Perfect practice makes perfect”. It takes a lot of sacrifice —blood, sweat, and guts — to achieve excellence — to separate yourself.
The Apostle Paul understood that this same degree of intensity was necessary to reach a level of “spiritual” excellence. In his letter to young Timothy, Paul urges him to “… train yourself for godliness.” (1 Timothy 4:7 ESV) It’s interesting that the Greek word for “train” is gymnazo, from which we get the word gymnasium, and it means to exercise vigorously. Paul uses the word train to denote strenuous spiritual exercise in order to produce godliness. He goes on to say, “… 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: 8 ESV)
Promise for the life to come — but also for this present life. Too often in this world our spiritual lives are lethargic and weak. Maybe our lack of power as Christians is simply spiritual inactivity. Maybe we need to get our fight back. Get back in the Word. Seek spiritual excellence in prayer. Inspiration comes by perspiration.
Paul must have known that there would be a temptation for Timothy to be
lackadaisical in his day-to-day journey. He reminded him, “Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you…” (1 Timothy 4:14 NASB)… “For to this end we toil and strive…” (1 Timothy 4:15 ESV)… Practice these things… immerse yourself i them…” (1 Timothy 4:15 ESV)
A.W. Tozer said, “We must face the fact that many today are notoriously careless in their living. This attitude finds its way into the church. We have liberty, we have money, we live in comparative luxury. As a result, discipline practically has disappeared.”
Sacred vigorous exercise.
Daily devotional discipline.
It’s all part of your championship training regiment.
Prayer to IGNITE:
God help me get back in the fight and to train rigorously like a champion. I know you have great things in store for me and the ones I love.