Text: 1 Timothy 4:6-5:2, Hebrews 12:1-13
Practice these things; be committed to them, so that your progress may be evident to all.
- 1 Timothy 4:15, ESV
If you walked into the She Reads Truth office today, you’d probably expect to see a whole lot of Bibles (they’re everywhere here!). You’d likely not be surprised to see pretty scripture prints and study packs lining the walls. But you may not expect to see the whole SRT staff competitively walk-running laps around the office.
It’s true; we are in the middle of a cut-throat fitness competition. About a week ago, after complaining in unison yet again about our increasing intake of fast food and decreasing motivation to exercise, we all wrapped identical fitness trackers around our wrists. These little black bands know everything, from the quality of our sleep to the number of our steps.
Here’s the catch: since everyone in the office signed up on the same team, all of us can see these suddenly-fascinating details about each other.
For example, Amanda Bible Williams, our beloved editorial director, is currently winning in steps-per-day, but she could use a little help in the sleep category. I, on the other hand, hold a solid 4th place (out of 6) for exercise, but my sound sleep statistics are untouchable. I could even tell you how many times each of us gets up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, but maybe I’ll leave that to your imagination.
Aside from providing a peek into our coworkers’ personal lives, the bands were (at least initially) ridiculously motivating. I found myself volunteering to take walks for any reason at all, running in place while answering emails, and parking far away to squeeze in just a little more distance. But today we’re approaching the one-week mark, and I’m exhausted. My muscles are whining, my tennis shoes are still in the same place I left them yesterday and, by looking at everyone’s statistics, I can tell my coworkers are feeling the same way.
None of us disagrees that exercise is good for us. We all felt exponentially better after just the first week, and we know it’s something we should keep up. It just requires time and work. It requires practice and discipline.
Today’s scripture passage tells us: “for the training of the body has a limited benefit.” (1 Timothy 4:8)
I want to consider this my permission to remove my band and erase my knowledge of steps-per-minute. But let’s lean in a little closer (hey, I get to count one more step that way!), to see that the writer doesn’t tell Timothy it’s useless, just that its goodness is limited. Even last week, when my endorphins were as high as my running knees, exercise had a limited benefit. I’ve never read that in a health magazine—exercise is supposed be good for you!—but I think that’s the point:
If exercise, any doctor’s top recommendation for a healthy body, has a limited benefit, then what could be better?
Our letter-writer continues, “…but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
If training in godliness truly is more important, I begin to wonder why we don’t have spiritual trackers that beep when we are too tired, busy or unmotivated to read Truth. But Paul is one step ahead of me (ha!).
“Practice these things; be committed to them, so that your progress may be evident to all. Pay close attention to your life and your teaching; persevere in these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:15-16).
Friends, we find our spiritual progress trackers in each other. We have spiritual accountability not in a device wrapped around our wrists, but in caring people who will cover us in prayer. Like Timothy, let us receive the call to stop running a silent race alone, but to dive into our faith training with hope and perseverance, joining the cloud of witnesses who run before and beside us.
No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead.
- Hebrews 12:11-13, HCSB