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. (1 Timothy 4:8)
Many people want to change their lives but they often forget that it will take training. This training is by the Holy Spirit through spiritual disciplines persevered over time. Trying harder to stop sin or to do something spiritual will only result in repeated failure. Once we’ve lived for a certain period of time, we develop habits that will not simply go away just because we want to. They are embedded in our soul, and it would require effort to change them. Our relational patterns get entrenched with unhealthy habits, and we end up constantly fighting or arguing, sometimes for no reason at all. Our bodies refuse to cooperate even though we want to do the right things. We don’t want to oversleep or overeat, and yet that’s exactly what we keep on doing. We want to exercise but we just can’t get out of bed. The reason? We’ve been lazy far too long. Our minds get into patterns of thinking that lead to wrong decisions. Our emotions — our passions and desires — are like volatile forces inside of us, and we don’t understand why we keep on feeling what we’re feeling. In our hearts, we want what God wants, but we end up choosing what God doesn’t want. Consequently, we become ashamed of ourselves, feeling guilty for all the wrong things that we think, say or do. We cannot experience true life change by trying harder. We have to pursue spiritual training, which must be Spirit-empowered. How do we do this?
The first key is to focus. The Holy Spirit knows where we need to change first, then second, then third, etc. He knows where we must focus ourselves first. You must learn how to discern what the Holy Spirit is focusing on in your life in terms of change. Where is He pinching or pressing? If we would just pause regularly, we will see that there are areas that the Holy Spirit is calling your attention to. Next, we need to discern what He wants us to think, say or do in that area. Usually it will involve putting off something and putting on something. Or it may involve going ahead, stopping, or just taking precautions. We may seek advice from other godly people to be sure we are on the right track. Once we are sure, we need to persevere in it, trusting the Holy Spirit for His power and grace to complete the process. We may encounter challenges or hindrances along the way, but we must depend on the Lord to enable us to succeed. This is what it means to train yourself to be godly. Shalom! (PB)