The Scriptorium

The Exercise We Need

Do you need more time in the gym? 1 Timothy 4.6-9

The Pastoral Epistles: 1 Timothy 4 (3)

Pray Psalm 12.6, 7.

The words of the LORD are pure words,
Like silver tried in a furnace of earth,
Purified seven times.
You shall keep them, O LORD,
You shall preserve them from this generation forever.

Read and meditate on 1 Timothy 4.6-9.


1. How does Paul especially want us to exercise? Why?

2. What comes from such exercising? 

Paul says that Timothy must “instruct the brethren in these things”, that is, in the warning about false teachers and the need for God’s sanctifying Word to guide us in all things (vv. 1-5). A “good minister” does both, constantly warning people about the lies and false doctrines that come at us from various directions, and urging them to hold fast with prayer and thanksgiving to the Word of God (v. 6). There is even benefit for the minister: As he faithfully attends to these topics, he himself will be “nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.” 

In our day, even more than in Paul’s, all kinds of information and images barrage us throughout the day. Believers, beginning with their ministers, must not allow themselves to become absorbed with ideas or opinions or gossip that is “profane”, that is, from the world. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention to what’s going on in the world. It simply guards us against having worldly news, trivia, and foolishness take our thoughts captive (2 Cor. 10.3-50). Especially in these days of the Internet and social media, it's all too easy to let our heads become filled with trivial, non-edifying information and images. Ministers must lead the way in refusing to become captive to such folly. Instead, they should exercisethemselves for godliness.

The Greek word for exerciseis the root of our word gymnasium. You have to “go to the gym” if you want to become godly. But first, you have towantto become godly. How will you know if that’s true? Do you “go to the gym” or is your “membership” in the Spirit’s workout club largely unused?

Exercising ourselves for godliness is work. We need to set a schedule and develop a routine – of prayer, meditation, reading, and study. Then, as we “tone up” our spiritual muscles, we must put them to use each day in the practice of godliness – words and deeds refracting the growing presence of Christ in us (2 Cor. 3.12-18). Exercising like this “is profitable for all things” (v. 8). It will help you to realize right now more of the eternal life you have in Jesus Christ; and it will better fit you for the life which is yet to come – tomorrow and forever.

You should take good care of your body, of course, and a little bodily exercise can be a good thing. But more important is the daily exercise of your soul, with the goal of increasing in righteousness. Paul says that this is a faithful saying, and all believers – not just Timothy and other ministers – should receive and act on it wholeheartedly (v. 9).

How is your workout time with the Lord?

1. Why is spending time with the Lord like going to the gym for a workout?

2. What should you expect to gain from consistent spiritual exercise?

3. How can believers encourage one another to greater consistency and exertion in spiritual exercise?

The school of righteousness attempts to bring us to maturity by first teaching us easy, elementary lessons suited for our limited intelligence. Then God, who provides us with every good thing, leads us to the truth, by gradually accustoming our darkened eyes to its great light. In the deep reaches of his wisdom and the unsearchable judgments of his intelligence, he spares our weakness and prescribes a gentle treatment. Basil the Great (330-379), On the Holy Spirit 14.33

Lord, help me to be more consistent, and to work harder at my spiritual exercises, so that I…

Pray Psalm 12.5-7.

As you pray, ask the Lord to show you ways you can make better use, and get more out of, your time with Him in His Word. Are you reading each day? Do you meditate? Should you start a journal? Are you seeking daily applications for what you read?

Sing Psalm 12.5-7.
Psalm 12.5-7 (Hamburg: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross)
Rise up, O Lord, and rescue all
Your precious children sore distressed.
Save those who faithfully on You call.
Grant them deliv’rance, peace, and rest.

Your words are pure and proven true,
like silver seven times refined;
You will preserve Your Word ever new,
and keep the heart to You inclined.

T. M. Moore

Whatever our calling in life, we are sent to bring the joy of Christ to the people around us. Our book, Joy to Your World!, can show you how to fill your Personal Mission Field with more of the Presence, promise, and power of Christ and His Kingdom. Order your copy, as a supplement to our study of 1 Timothy, by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.