6In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. 7But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. 10For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. 11Prescribe and teach these things. 1 Timothy 4:6-11
While we are an indulgent society, we are also a nation obsessed with athletic endeavor. Super star athletes are worshipped like gods and paid a king’s ransom. Ordinary moms are now skinny triathletes trying to fit in 10 miles on the bike before breakfast, and then can be seen heading out to push their dazed one-year-olds down jogging paths in strollers designed in wind tunnels. You have not arrived in life until you proudly sport a “26.2” sticker on your back car window.
Paul says bodily discipline is profitable only for this present life, not for the next.
Some of us train ourselves for the purposes of extending out lives, but only life eternal really matters.
Paul was big on athletics. Today you might see him at the stadium or arena, taking time off from imperiling himself and those around him to take in a big meet or boxing match. He loved the struggle and striving of “the big game.” The battle against the clock. The contest of wills. But outside of good sermon illustrations, sports was only a temporary diversion from the real contest of readying his body, thorns and all, for the afterlife, and expending every ounce of energy he had reaching souls with the Good News in the here and now.
He trained hard. He put in the miles. He ate the true breakfast of champions morning, noon and night. Thus, he landed his punches. He finished strong.
Discipline (train) yourself for the purpose of godliness. Shed (literally ‘beg of”) the ankle weights of worldliness. Constantly take in the right foods (the Word) for the energy necessary to push through the tape.