Self-Discipline for Godliness


Our pursuit of godliness will benefit us here on earth—and even more so in heaven.

1 Timothy 4:7-10

Many people want self-discipline but struggle to achieve it. We see this virtue promoted by health professionals who admonish us to exercise regularly, choose healthy foods, and get adequate sleep. The business world has seminars to help us set and work toward goals, and financial experts advise us on self-control in spending. There are even experts who can help us manage our possessions.

Think about all the advantages of personal discipline: It gives us a sense of purpose and accomplishment, helps us feel less stressed, and results in improved health. Yet Paul declares that “bodily discipline is only of little profit” because it’s strictly for this life. What the apostle finds far more valuable is self-discipline for the purpose of godliness, “since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8).

Godliness is a Godward attitude that does what pleases the Lord. It adheres to the teachings of Jesus and flows from the knowledge of truth as revealed in Scripture (Titus 1:1 NIV). Therefore, we must know what God has said, what He desires, and what He expects of us regarding our character and conduct.

Discipline for godliness requires that we make reading, studying, and meditating on Scripture a priority. It means we say no to sinful desires and impulses in order to obey the Lord. The result will be a life transformed into Christlikeness, a clear conscience, and a spirit that is joyful and peaceful. In fact, the benefits extend even further. This earthly life is a mere breath in time, but godliness goes with us into heaven and leads to the eternal rewards of a life lived fully for Christ.

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