My small group has decided to work through
Disciplines of a Godly Man over the summer. I’m only two chapters in and I already know that this is a book that every Christian man needs to read. It’s content and tone is direct, but gracious, and is as challenging as it is insightful.
Below is an excerpt from the first chapter:
The call to train ourselves for godliness also suggests directing all of our energy toward godliness. Paul pictures this elsewhere: “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. . . . Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27). Intense, energetic sweat! We should singularly note that a sentence later in the context of Paul’s command to “train yourself to be godly,” he comments on the command and the intervening words, saying “for this we labor and strive.” “Labor” means “strenuous toil,” and “strive” is the Greek word from which we get “agonize.” Toil and agony are called for if one is to be godly.
Toil and agony. These words hit me deeper than anything else I’ve read. Mainly because I don’t really believe that many Christians (in America, at least) associate Christianity with actual work. Sure, there are absolutely those who press into the Scriptures with a desire to be more like Christ. There are definitely those who chase after godliness and sanctification. But, I feel that even those Christians (me included) may not necessarily prepare their hearts for the incredible amount of work that actually living out holiness really takes.
It takes immense amounts of prayer and time in Scriptures. And not just reading it, but meditating and thinking over what the Bible says and how it applied to the original audience and then how it applies to us today. Beyond that, we have to actually wage war against our sin nature to actually live out what we’re reading in the Bible. It takes WORK! Not only that, but then we also have to be ready to lose friendships and relationships with those who find us intolerant (when the Bible never calls us to be tolerant necessarily) or who just don’t want the to feel the weight of sin press them when they see the lives of those ardently following Christ.
How many of us really prepare our hearts for this? Do we really focus on the glory of God to the point that we see Him as supremely valuable? Or is that just the a buzz line to show people we’ve read the latest John Piper book? How many of us can really say that we strive to live our lives so that others would see the beauty of Jesus? Do we really fight to kill the sin in our lives out of obedience to the Scriptures, and so that those around us would see that we really hold fast to our confession that Christ is enough, that He is supremely satisfying in all things??
I know that we all fail and make mistakes, but I fear that most of us simply aren’t even trying. I’ve been blessed to be placed in a church with solid men of God as pastors and solid teaching to press me into the gospel, or to press the gospel into me, and I’m incredibly grateful for the men and women of God who I see striving to follow Christ and who press me to do the same. So, I’m not ignorant or dismissive of those blessings and amazing people, but I feel my heart resonating with this book’s call for us to do better.
May God give us the grace and strength to follow Him well.