How would you like to improve every area of your life? Would you like to make your marriage better? Would you like to improve your relationship with your children? How about changing your financial outlook?
The secret that benefits your life in every way is Bible godliness! This article will show you how.
The apostle Paul wrote these words to a young preacher named Timothy.
1 Timothy 4.7: “Exercise yourself toward godliness.”
Why would the Bible tell us to exercise toward godliness?
Do you like to exercise?
Every morning, I get up and exercise.
I start by doing some cardiovascular exercises on the elliptical. I then work on strength exercises such as push-ups, squats, bench press. Then I do a series of stretches.
Did you know that the Bible encourages us to exercise physically? Listen to the words of the apostle Paul in the next verse:
1 Timothy 4.8: “For bodily exercise profits a little”
When I go to my doctor for my regular check-up, one of the first things she asks me is, “Are you exercising?”
The Bible tells us the same thing that doctors have been preaching for years. Bodily exercise profits. To borrow a phrase from the milk industry, bodily exercise, “does a body good.”
Wait a minute!
This Bible verse doesn’t say that bodily exercise profits. It says that bodily exercise profits a little. Does that mean that the benefits of exercise are small? Does that mean that I am spending time working up a sweat for minimal benefits?
The word ‘little” is not the idea of quality but quantity. The Bible is saying that bodily exercise does benefit us. But it only benefits us in a few areas of life.
The health benefits of exercise are huge. They are worth the effort of spending an hour each morning working out. But if I were to make up a list of all the ways bodily exercise benefits me, that list would be short.
Why is this important to know?
Believe it or not, I am not writing this to get you to work out more often. Neither does the Bible contain this passage to encourage us to take better care of our bodies.
This was written to make a contrast. The Bible is telling us where we need to focus our efforts. Watch what these verses say when you put them together.
1 Timothy 4.7,8: “…exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”
Physical exercise has a goal.
Spiritual exercise also has a goal.
In our Bible passage, we are to exercise with the goal of becoming more godly. Why? Because bodily exercise might give us a few benefits. But godliness will benefit every area of life.
Godliness is spiritual bacon!
I love bacon! (That can be a problem for me because I also try to exercise and stay healthy?)
I do most of the cooking in our household. I believe that bacon makes everything taste better. Many of my meals include bacon. (You should try my version of chicken cordon blue. I replace the ham with crumbled bacon.)
Bible godliness is the same way. Everything you do in life is done better when it is done with godliness. Every relationship you have will be stronger when it is influenced by godliness. There is no part of your life that will not be improved when it is “flavored” with godliness.
“Godliness is profitable for all things.”
“Well, that sounds great! I want every area of my life to get better! But…what is godliness? And how to do I exercise to get it?”
I’m glad you asked. (Actually, I was going to tell you even if you didn’t ask)
To understand godliness, let’s look at three definitions: The English definition, the Greek definition, and then…my definition.
The English Definition of Godliness: “conforming to the laws and wishes of God; devout; pious”
The Greek Definition of Godliness: “denotes that piety which, characterized by a Godward attitude, does that which is well-pleasing to Him.”
If you are looking for a free online resource, I recommend Vine’s expository dictionary.
These sources will give you a technical definition, but I find them very impractical. What does “godliness” mean in everyday language?
The concept of Bible godliness is to think about God. Include God in every decision.
Are you thinking about telling a dirty joke to your friends at work? Think about how God would feel about that.
Are you upset at your husband and are trying to decide how to approach him? Spend some time in the Bible. Read what God says about marriage (Eph. 5.22-33; 1 Pet. 3.1-7). Think about how God wants you to respond. (Gal. 6.1)
Are you struggling with a hardship and feel alone? Remember that God is there for you and has promised to “never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13.5,6)
There are tremendous benefits of being a person that includes God is all your decisions. Every area of your life will get better when you put God in the forefront of your mind.
But how do you do that?
Our Bible passage tells us that godliness is something to practice. Look at it again…
1 Timothy 4.7: “Exercise yourself toward godliness.”
Exercise has always been the means of getting better. The more you do something, the better you get. (How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice!)
Godliness is the goal to achieve by our exercise.
Here are some exercises you can do that will help you become godly.
Are you faced with a decision? Ask yourself, “How does God feel about this?”
Are you struggling with temptation? Ask yourself, “Will doing this be offensive to God?”
Are you in a relationship? Ask yourself, “How does God want me to treat this person?”
Get into the habit of always asking about how your thoughts, words, actions, will be viewed by God, and you will be better at living a godly life.
Are you asking yourself questions about what is pleasing to God, but you don’t know the answer?
The Bible tells us how to know the mind of God…
1 Corinthians 2.11: “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.”
The only one who knows what I am thinking is me (and something my wife – very eerie!). The only way someone else can know what I am thinking is if I tell them.
It’s the same with you. Nobody is a mind reader. Not even those with crystal balls. The only one who knows what you are thinking is you. The only way someone else can know what you’re thinking is if you tell them. (Don’t worry, I won’t ask you to tell me).
In the same way, the only one who knows what God is thinking is God. The only way we can know what God is thinking is if He tells us….and He has!
1 Corinthians 2.12: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”
God has told us what He thinks.
Make it a habit to go to the Bible to learn what God thinks, and then make your decisions accordingly.
Jesus spent a lot of time during His ministry emphasizing the need to pray.
If you want to know how to live a godly life, follow the example of Jesus and pray about it.
Praying will help you become godly in two ways.
Before you make a major decision, pray and ask God for help. If you are dealing with a difficult circumstance at work, pray to God about it. (Phil. 4.6)
Spending time with ungodly people will influence you to be the same way.
The Bible warns us that “bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15.33).
If you surround yourself with people who do not think about God, then you will become one who does not think about God.
In the same way, surrounding yourself with people who have God in their lives will encourage you to be the same way.
Do you know why going to church is so important? It is the place where we are around other Christians. During that time we can “stir up one another toward love and good works” (Heb. 10.24).
The Bible tells us to “make no friendship with an angry man…lest you learn his ways” (Prov. 22.24,25). Instead, make friends with someone who puts God first in their lives. Become a friend to someone who can help you be more godly.
Those people who are in positions of spiritual leadership are to be examples.
Listen to what the Bible says to Christians in the book of Philippians.
Philippians 4.9: “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”
The Christians in Philippi were to learn from Paul’s example and teachings. Then they were to do what they saw him do. Paul wasn’t looking for people to follow him. He was wanting them to follow Christ (1 Cor. 11.1).
This same Paul told Timothy (a preacher) to “be an example to the believers” (1 Tim. 4.12). He says the same thing to elders (1 Pet. 5.3).
He then tells the rest of us to look to the example of these spiritual mentors and follow them.
Philippians 3.17: "Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.
All of that tells me that I can put godliness into practice by imitating those who are already doing it. Have you ever sat down and talked to your preacher about godliness? How does he do it?
Godliness is something that you can do…with regular practice. Keep working on it. Soon, you will be making decisions based on how God thinks. You do that, and every part of your life will be that much better.