The Practices | 1 Timothy 4:7-15
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. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 1 Timothy 4:7-15 | ESV
Spiritual practices. Often we call them the “disciplines.” That can be a more intimidating word, conjuring up images of future Olympians engaging in fierce, sacrificial training at all kinds of ungodly hours. Some of us are Olympians. Most of us, not so much. Perhaps we are a little less intimidated by the word practices. Maybe this is how we can re-frame the word “discipline.” Spiritual disciplines = practices or activities within our reach that over time empower us to go beyond our current reach. It’s a runner engaging in doable runs so as to successfully complete the presently undoable marathon. The trouble is most of us try to run the marathon as the spiritual practice. Like Daniel in Karate Kid, we don’t want to “wax on, wax off.” We just want to fight. Understandably, we get deflated at the very prospect of “spiritual disciplines” when approached this way. As Brian McClaren observes in Naked Spirituality, “If the only people who can embark on a spiritual journey are those blessed with a lot of self-discipline and sufficient free time, many of us are in trouble. That’s why we need simple, doable, durable practices that can be integrated into many things we are already doing… taking a walk, commuting, cooking or eating, resting in bed, relaxing at home, taking a break at work, waiting for an appointment, enjoying a hobby.” Those are the three key words when considering spiritual practices that will actually help us to progress in Christ. Simple. Doable. Durable. Like Timothy, rather than merely being driven by the urgent and superfluous, we need to find such practices and immerse ourselves in them.
Take a personal inventory: what spiritual practices do you currently engage in? What have you found to be simple, doable, and durable in your spiritual walk?
Lord, show me what simple, doable, and durable practices you would have me pursue in my walk with you. Give me the grace to be intentional in these practices – but keep me from getting weird and religious about them.
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.