1Ti 4:7-9 “But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.”
As he often does, Paul uses the analogy of being an athlete in describing what if means to be “a good minister of Jesus Christ (1Tim 4:6).” Any good athlete (or anyone seeking to be healthy) knows that there is a balance between what to do and not to do. Daily exercise does not profit us much if we offset it by consumption of junk foods that have no real value. Junk foods (old wives’ fables) need to be rejected.
In the same vein, if we would be good ministers of Jesus Christ, we need to refuse falsehoods when it comes to the power of God. God said “…I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it (Isa 46:11).” Yet we hear people daily declaring that man’s will is strong enough to thwart God’s will. Such a notion is an “old wives’ fable”, in other words, a silly bit of fiction.
Instead of entertaining such notions in any capacity, we need to be exercising (training) ourselves in the soundness of the gospel. Peter tells us to sanctify God in our hearts, and to always be ready to give a reason for our hope (1Pe 3:15). This admonishment requires that we exercise ourselves in the study of God’s word. We know that our exercise is brought to fruition by the power of the Holy Ghost.
There is sufficient scientific proof that bodily exercise is good for us. It strengthens both our muscles and our bones. A regular routine of bodily exercise reduces depression. Exercise makes us feel better and improves our health if we do it regularly.
Yet, compared to godliness, bodily exercise is very limited in its benefits. Exercising ourselves in that which works toward godliness has great benefit. Studying God’s word, praying according to the Spirit, and literally practicing what we preach are wonderful exercises in godliness. This is profitable unto all things.
Exercising godliness will make us better husbands and wives. We will become better children and parents. We will be better neighbors, better employees, or employers. We will certainly be better servants to God our Savior.
Exercising in godliness give us divine assurance (promise) in our current situation. If everything is well with us presently, we will thank God (instead of talking about our luck) if we are exercising ourselves in godliness. Maybe we are in a condition right now that life does not seem like it could get much worse. If we are exercised in godliness, then we will know who to turn to and trust in our present trouble.
Being exercised in godliness also gives us this divine assurance in what may come tomorrow. This exercise grounds us from being swept away from God when we enjoy a tide of good fortune. It also keeps us from being blown about in the heavy storms of life. We have hope in God both for today, for tomorrow, and for all eternity.
This is the truth of the God that we love and serve, and it is deserving or our acceptance. We grasp this through exercise. Exercise is not an easy pursuit; it is not without pain, sweat, and (sometimes) disappointment. However, it is an endeavor that will help us in our walk with God.
May we be blessed by Him to exercise daily in that which is profitable unto all things!