“The way a book is read — which is to say, the qualities a reader brings to a book — can have as much to do with its worth as anything the author puts into it…. Anyone who can read can learn how to read deeply and thus live more fully.”
~Norman Cousins

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I read from my scriptures (book), but you can find scripture reference here.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

1 Timothy 4: 7-16 exercise unto godliness

Exercise unto godliness.

My heart was breaking. I had arisen at 5:30 so that I could get my three mile run in before waking the children for their school day. As I quietly slipped from the house, my eleven year old fifth grader followed me to the front  door and begged me to take her.

 She cried and pleaded. “Please Mommy, Let me come. I will keep up you will see. I am fast.”

I turned to hug her, gave her a squeeze, and trotted off to find my rhythm as I began my loop through the neighborhood. I was well into the last leg of my run before the image of her sad face pressed up to our glass door left me. It tugged at my heart and slowed my race. Little did I know that the day would come when she would run and win many a race. She would win state titles and break records. She was fast and she knew it. But the race does not always go to the swiftest nor he who exercises the most or the hardest.  Sometimes it is more about the heart of discipline.

Paul was an older man who had lived a hard life. He spoke often of the pain in his side and other ailments that burdened him. Timothy was a younger man. I presume he was an athlete who ran races. ( I have run a good race 2 Timothy 4:7) The letters that Paul writes to Timothy reflect this difference in age.   

In my youth and as a mother of a large family,  I ran three  miles almost every day. It refreshed my soul, bridled my energy, and balanced my hormonal surges. Exercise helped me maintain my strength, my posture, my endurance, my health, and my happiness. I value my ability to exercise daily and strike a balance to my day. But exercise can be like a drug. That high you get when you hit your first “wall”, begins to stretch itself out farther and farther from your goal. Your times get faster, your distances longer, and before you know it you are addicted to the routine of training. It overshadows all other areas of your life.

I wonder if Timothy didn’t train hard for  races. Paul often uses images of racing when he writes Timothy. In preparing for this essay, I found an excellent (really excellent) sermon on this. It called Running the Race of Faith and its from a 1995 sermon from a pastor in Massachusetts. It’s worth the read, especially if you enjoy running. 

Paul wants us to understand that while exercise is good for the body and the soul, the body will wear out. The time will come when you will not be able to use your hips, your knees, or your feet. 

Unlike the body, your soul does not wear out. It lives eternally. But like your body, you can train your soul to run in a race of godliness.  “Godliness profiteth unto all things.” Paul is trying to help Timothy understand that while exercise is good, moderation is better, and the exercise of the spiritual matters is the best use of your time. Why? Because it will bring the greatest eternal rewards.

  Just like exercise, our faith needs to work hard. It should accept the reproach from our lack of faith and trust in the Living God.  Faith should not be despised because of youth (inexperience) but should be an example to all. 
We can be an example by speaking God's word, by keeping our conversations pure and clean, by giving charity to others, sharing a good spirit, building our faith, and showing forth the purity of our soul and of our purpose. 

Faith like exercise must be worked at. We must read God's word daily. Give a good spirit to others daily, keep our hearts and minds pure daily, and endure the race daily. 

I am very proud of my young daughter who saw the joy that the exercise of her body would bring, but I am even greater to realize that the she also understands the greater eternal joy that the exercise of her faith will bring. 

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