Like physical health, maintaining spiritual health centers on diet and exercise. Paul has just warned Timothy of apostasy stemming from some listening to “deceitful spirits and teachings of demons”(1 Tim 4:1). “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”(1 Tim 4:6). There are good words that we can be “trained in.” On the other hand, there are “irreverent, silly myths”(1 Tim 4:7) that must be avoided. Paul wants Timothy to be careful about what he teaches (1 Tim 4:11), publicly read Scripture (1 Tim 4:13), and keep a close eye on his teaching (1 Tim 4:16). Teaching matters because it is the spiritual diet of the church.
Spiritual health is not strictly intellectual though. “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”(1 Tim 4:7-8). The words of the faith are intended to be lived and practiced. Just as bodily exercise brings benefits, spiritual exercise makes us stronger now and prepares us for the life to come. This is why Timothy must not just teach but also “set the believers an example”(1 Tim 4:12). “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching”(1 Tim 4:16). Paul wants Timothy to practice what he preaches.
The trouble with diet and exercise is that even when we know they are linked to our physical health, we struggle with them. It is important that we fill our hearts with God’s words so that our minds are renewed. But it is also vital that we practice what we have heard—acting to show love to others, disciplining our bodies and minds, speaking words of encouragement to others, praying for others, and treating our families in better ways.
------------- One Thing to Think About: How will I exercise myself in godliness today?
One Thing to Pray For: Proper spiritual diet and exercise today