I’ve never been that good (or enthusiastic) about participating in Sport. It’s mostly my fault, but I partially blame what happened when I was young. I grew up with chronic Asthma … I was on bottled Oxygen from time to time. In those days the treatment for Asthma was quite different from now. Rather than encourage sport to strengthen the muscles and expand lung capacity, the accepted treatment was to discourage sport in case it brought on an Asthma attack. And so I grew up more often sitting on the sidelines watching sport than participating. And when I did participate, my lack of muscle development in my legs, as well as around my lungs, meant I was pretty much always destined to perform badly.
I don’t tell you this to extract sympathy – it is what it is, and God used lessons learnt in many significant ways. But what I have learned, the hard way, is that ‘training’ – the intentional giving of oneself to developing ability – is necessary for most things in life, be it physical, intellectual, emotional … or spiritual.
Paul says (1 Tim 4:8) “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” He is not deriding or denying physical training, noting that it does have ‘some value’. But there is something that is infinitely more valuable, and lasting, which we should dedicate ourselves to. And so in the preceding verse he commands: “Train yourself for godliness”.
Now, training is hard. It is intentional – to achieve a goal. It is demanding – causing us to exert effort, to stretch ourselves beyond what we can currently achieve. And it takes time – results are achieved as we repeatedly press towards the desired goal. And it’s the same for Spiritual Training. There are various ways in which we receive Spiritual Training – we see two in Hebrews 12. One is our struggle against sin, to obey God. Related to that is God’s discipline when we do stumble or fail (Heb 12:4-13). And there are other forms of Spiritual Training. For example, one is serving – stepping out in faith for Him, and so growing in Him as we serve.
But the key form of Spiritual Training is spending time intentionally in His word … so we can become more like Him. … This requires time, commitment, and discipline. But the rewards are immense.
But the key form of Spiritual Training is spending time intentionally in His word, learning more about Him (Heb 12:1-2) so we can become more like Him, or learning more of what He calls us into. If we are to grow in Godliness, we need to grow in our knowledge of Him (2 Pet 1:3,5-8). This requires time, commitment, and discipline. But the rewards are immense.
God puts us in a local church, like Cambray, so we can help and encourage one another (Col 3:16, Eph 4:11-16). We do so by being involved in a Small Group or Bible Study Group, so we grow together in community, supporting one another, encouraging each other in our growth in Him. In Cambray we also see opportunity for focused training in key areas as important, which is why we run our Spring Training Courses. This Spring we are running three courses, and there will be more in the year ahead. Don’t think of them as ‘extras for the keen’, but ‘essentials for us all’ (cf Rom 15:4). They are a means by which we can learn together, encourage one another and grow in Him, so that we can bring Him glory in our lives. So, look out for the Spring Training Courses, sign up here: https://cambray.churchsuite.com/events/6ozub2ux and let’s grow together in Jesus!