Summary: Paul commands us to do more than try - we are to train.
WHAT DOES A VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN LIFE LOOK LIKE? Christlikeness.
- 1 Timothy 4:7a.
- The goal of the Christian life is for us to literally become like Christ, not just claim allegiance to Him.
- The mention of “godless myths and old wives’ tales” earlier in v. 7 is telling. Much of the problem back then had to do with people declaring that they had special knowledge of some kind that made them the real believers. The key was the information, not the life change.
- We do something similar today. We often talk as though the most important thing is that you believe the correct doctrine. Now, let me be clear: believing the truth does matter. But believing a list of doctrine and checking off our mental assent to each one is not sufficient for what God wants to do in our lives.
- His goal is Christlikeness, not checkmarks.
DOING YOUR BEST: To get to that goal the best I can do is try.
- Often we’ll say something like, “I’m going to try to grow” or “I’m going to give it my best effort.”
- That’s not a bad thing – it’s just not enough.
- Too often, though, saying we’ll try comes with about as much conviction as when we tell someone, “I’ll try to make it your party Friday.” We’ll all know that a polite way of saying, “I’m not coming to your party Friday.”
A STEP FURTHER: You’ve got to train as well as try.
- Trying is a good start, but there are things we won’t be able to accomplish if we just try. We need to train as well.
- What do I mean by train? Let’s start with the obvious sports metaphor.
- If I want to be a great basketball player, I have to do more than try my best. I also have to train. I have to run so I’ll be in shape to fly up and down the court for four quarters. I have to work on my dribbling skills so that I can handle the basketball right handed and left handed. I have to work on my shooting. In all those there are obviously different levels of natural ability, but to get anywhere in competition you have to train as well as try.
- We all know that making it to the top of the sports world doesn’t mean that you’re done with your training. You have to continue to train hard to stay in the game.
- Spiritually, you have to train as well as try.
- For many of you this evening, that’s a new concept. What does it mean to “train spiritually”?
f. Overcoming your big sin.
- Aspects of that:
a. We want to get better at what we’re good at.
b. We want to improve on weak areas.
c. We want to get comfortable with what is new to us.
d. We want to get rid of bad tendencies.
e. We want to know our enemy and how to defeat him.
- Spiritual disciplines.
A FULL-STOP EXCUSE: “But that doesn’t come naturally to me.”
- I’ve alluded to this some in the sermon up to this point, but let me fully face it now.
- When something doesn’t come naturally to us, we use that as a fully-justified excuse to not go any further. “I’m just not any good at it.” “It just doesn’t come naturally to me.”
- “It’s hard for me to get something out of the Bible.”
- “I can’t concentrate in prayer.”
- “I don’t feel like forgiving.”
- And on and on.
- So often we stop at the point of what comes easily or naturally to us. If it’s not natural to us, then we’re obviously not meant to do it.
- That’s pure bunk.
- There are many things in life that don’t come naturally to us that we have to train to do. Practice is required for many endeavors.
- Spirituality is no different.
- We cannot quit at the point of what comes naturally.
- Sometimes people use the phrases “the natural man” and “the spiritual man” to refer to unsaved and saved people. That first phrase is worth thinking about here: our “natural man” would be doing things that are not honoring to Christ. What “comes natural” to us is not necessarily what we should be doing.
A FIRST STEP: Take inspiration from Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule.
- In one of his books, popular author Malcolm Gladwell posits the 10,000-hour rule. It’s simple but challenging: anyone can become an expert in anything if you’re willing to put in 10,000 hours practicing.
- Playing piano. Hitting a baseball. Doing heart surgery.