“But have nothing to do with worldly fables fir only for old women. On the other hand, 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 4:7-8. NASB)
Paul taught Timothy in this passage when Timothy was experiencing opposition to his teaching of God’s way and the Gospel. He told him to have nothing to do with worldly fables – stories and inventions of the human mind – but to discipline himself for the purpose of godliness. Paul said bodily discipline of little use; it can only be used on earth. Still better godliness is profitable for all things since it gives us promise here on earth and for our future life in God’s heaven.
Timothy faced ungodly people. These people sought to have followers and would say whatever it took to gain them. They tickled the ears of the people. These want-to be leaders seduced them to follow ungodly ways disguising it as godly doctrine, though it was what demons teach. Besides this, they told them not to marry and to abstain from eating certain foods. These self-important people were ungodly. They wanted followers for themselves more than anything and they had to be different from Jesus’ followers. These people even declared as unholy and unusable things God made for people to eat and use.
Are there people in our sphere who try to make themselves more important to gain followers and prestige? Are there people who try to make themselves more important than God by spouting what people want to hear? Do they declare things as good or bad contrary to God’s Word? This is why Paul exhorted Timothy to discipline himself for the purpose of godliness.
We may discipline ourselves for today and tomorrow while we live on earth, but what good will bodily discipline do for us in heaven when God gives us new bodies? If you are not a Christian, what good will bodily discipline do for you in hell when you will burn in unquenchable fire for eternity, but remain unconsumed? Godliness, Paul said, holds promise for the present life and the life to come. It is profitable now and for eternity.
This godliness Paul spoke of is reverence and respect for God lived out in our lives as obedience to Him because of our love for Him. Godliness comes from being in a relationship with God through prayer, study of the Bible, listening and heeding His teaching, and responding to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. It comes from a close relationship with God that makes us more Christ-like each day. As Paul said, as a Christian living in this world, earthly life is a toiling, striving, and even suffering reproach because we have fixed our hope on the living God who is the Savior, Preserver, Maintainer, and Deliverer of all men, especially of those who believe in Him.
When we seek the godliness of God, we put Him first. We have hope of our future with Him in heaven. As people who put their trust in Jesus Christ and who are growing toward holiness through the power of the Holy Spirit and our love for the Father, we will be able to stand strong.
Is there someone you look up to that seeks followers, but does not walk in God’s ways? Do not follow him or her. Instead, discipline yourself for godliness. Seek God’s will in His Word, stand strong for Him, grow in your faith, and look toward your hope. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33, NASB) Seek God. Grow in godly discipline. Then He will add these things – food, shelter, clothes - to you.
Is your discipline growing you toward godliness?