The Pursuit of Excellence
The Power of Disciplined Effort
We are a culture that relishes in excellence in athletics. Literally billions of dollars are spent each year in America on spectator sports, with the big money draws (baseball, basketball, football, golf, hockey, and nascar) garnering a sizeable treasure chest and air time. We treat the titans of these events like gods, tracking their every move (whether silly or noble) as if every thing they do and say are critical. Without a doubt, the American public is addicted to sports, and a goodly amount of our broadcast time, news coverage, and overall interest and conversation flow from the exploits and defeats of these modern day heroes and heroines.
While it is clear that everyone likes to see the sheer brilliance of athletes in their field, very few of us are aware at the cost and price involved to reach their level of expertise and excellence. While everyone would love to play soccer like David Beckham, or hit a golf club like Tiger Woods, or shoot baskets like Kobe Bryant, we are not sure if we are willing (mainly able!) to withstand the never-ending workout regimens that they endure to attain and sustain that excellence. For professional athletes, they must rigorously, constantly, and carefully discipline their bodies and minds to reach the levels of peak performance that their daily competition demands. If they ignore their discipline and regimen, even for one tiny little episode, it could cost them that edge that has made them household names for those who follow their sporting careers.
In the field of spiritual maturity and discipleship,we must learn the power and advantage of discipline and rigor. Paul, in challenging Timothy with the message that prepare him for a long ministry of fruitfulness and maturity, emphasizes the importance of self-discipline in attaining godliness and frutifulness in ministry. "If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.  Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness;  for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.  The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance" (1 Tim. 4:6-9 [ESV]).
Paul here exhorts Timothy to train himself for the purpose of godliness, and contrasts the rigors of physical discipline with those of the pursuit of godliness. He suggests that while physical discipline and bodily training carries some value, it cannot be compared to the overwhelming value of the pursuit of godliness, which "holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come" (1 Tim. 4.8b). Paul does not slight the excellence that physical exercise and bodily training can provide; it can be of some legitimate value, especially in professional sports! Yet, the kind of serious, rigorous application of discipline in spiritual matters carries boundless value, not only presently but in the age to come. Discipline for the purpose of godliness is high value investment for the disciple of Christ. Read more