Have you ever seen a rude and obnoxious Christian? How is that possible? Aren’t we supposed to display the fruits of the Spirit like love, joy, peace, patience and kindness? The answer is of course, yes, there are rude Christians, and not all believers have the fruits of the Spirit. The truth is that just because a person gives their heart to Jesus and receives the gift of eternal life doesn’t mean they are automatically transformed into a nice person. We need training to become a godly person. Mind you this godliness of which I speak of has nothing to do with earning salvation—that is a gift. I am referring to pursuing godliness in our individual lives.
The Apostle Paul referred to godliness fifteen times in the New Testament, and thirteen of those times are in his pastoral epistles to Timothy and Titus. Paul saw Jesus as the source of this godliness which develops each of us into godly believers if we are willing to do the training.
Paul writes, “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:7-10).
We are to recognize and reject bad teaching. Heresy is all around us, but if we know the Scriptures, we will be able to reject the bad. Then we are to accept the good—the good being the truth of God’s Word. This discipline of training ourselves seems to make sense in every other field except godliness. My wife Marilyn and I recently saw a man sit at the piano and play a thirty minute symphony with a full orchestra with not a single note in front of him. He never missed a beat. How could he have done that? Who knows the thousands of hours of practice and the discipline he has done to be able to deliver such a masterful performance of skill and art?
We are to begin a regimen of the Word of God in our lives. This training ourselves to be godly refers to training ourselves in the Scriptures. This is where the rubber really meets the road in Christians’ lives. That is whether they will learn to exercise themselves in the book of books. This is the path to godliness.
When Daniel’s colleagues tried to find some dirt in his past they could use against him, they found none. So they determined to use his religion against him. They contrived a new law that prohibited anyone from praying to anyone but the king. What was Daniel’s response? “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (Daniel 6:10). Notice the words “just as he had done before.” These words speak of the discipline in Daniel’s life. He had trained himself to do the right thing.
Do you have a daily habit of reading and studying God’s Word? I invite you to begin one. There are many tools available, such as online reading programs or a Bible phone app. Whatever method you use, the point is to study God’s Word and develop a love for Jesus that transforms your life into a godly person.