“Train yourself to be godly. 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.” 1Timothy 4:7-8
To train ourselves to be godly is to reorder our lives in a way that makes living close to God our highest priority. Asaph said, “the nearness of God is my good.” (Psalm 73:28) In what way is godliness good for us?
First, Paul says it’s valuable in this present life. Later in his letter he gives a qualifier: “Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into this world, and we cannot take anything out.” (6:6-7) The more we pursue godliness with contentment the more we live defined by God and the more all other definitions fade away. We are not our financial net worth, or what other people think we are, or even how we define ourselves – we are God’s masterpiece! (Ephesians 2:10) Only the godly grow away from the traps of this world into their true identity. Letting the One who loved us and gave Himself up for us (Galatians 2:20) be the One who defines us is tremendously liberating. His perfect love drives out fear and insecurity (1John 4:18), so that we can simply be ourselves filled with His Holy Spirit.
Then Paul says godliness has value for the life to come. Asaph says that those who live “far from You will perish; You put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to You.” (Psalm 73:27) The ungodly will “perish like beasts” (2Peter 2:12) and “be consumed” eventually in the eternal fire (Hebrews 10:27), but the godly will share eternal life with God. This is the simple gospel: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Godliness begins by forsaking our own works and by putting our trust in Jesus Christ because salvation is God’s gift to us. “Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness (right standing with God!).” (Romans 4:4-5)