Will You Train with Me?

A few weeks ago, I have officially submitted my application to enter the most significant race of all times.

spiritual race, finish line 

Significant because the outcome of the race will utterly change the course of my life and future. This type of race doesn’t require mere physical exertion, but also spiritual sweat. I’m talking about the spiritual race of life. The outcome of the race will place me in either light or darkness.

My goal is to win the race. My competitors aren’t fellow Christians but rather our nemesis Satan who ensnares us with his diabolic tactics. As you can’t expect a marathon runner to win the race without rigorous practice, I cannot prevail victorious without expending spiritual sweat and cultivating spiritual disciplines. It’s hard work!

As I train for the race called life, apostle Paul calls us to “run with perseverance the raced marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1). To win the race, I must “train [myself] 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.” (1 Tim 4:7)

The etymology of “train” is derived from the word gumnos, which means “naked” and is the word from which we derive our English word gymnasium. Therefore, picture a first century Greeco-Roman athlete competing in a race naked, completely unencumbered, to win the race.   

Paul understood the intentionality and rigorous training required to ultimately secure the winning prize: “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 Corin 9:25-27)

At my Missional Community, we have recently started a study of Kent Hughes’ book “The Disciplines of a Godly Man.” The book covers specific disciplines that cover  ‘relationships,’ ‘soul,’ ‘character,’ and ‘ministry.’

My goal is to memorize the entire epistle of 2 Timothy. The epistle of 2 Timothy is comprised of four chapters. It is essentially a letter from Paul to his protégé Timothy. It’s sort of his last words to the next generation of leader. 

Why memorize Scripture?

Dallas Willard says, “Bible memorization is absolutely fundamental to spiritual formation.” Charles Swindoll says, “I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture. . . . No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified.”

Granted, faith without works is dead. I am very painfully aware of the temptation to default into a Pharisee mode who can recite the Scripture yet live a discordant life bereft of God’s love, grace, and hope. Memorizing therefore is an effective means to an end. A healthy vehicle to further strengthen our armor in Christ.  

I will post a video of me reciting the entire epistle of 2 Timothy from memory by August 1st. By announcing this publicly, I am submitting myself to accountability to all my Salt+Light family. Please pray that I will persevere in the midst of this. It’s not an easy feat yet I know this is of supreme value in my relationship with God, empowering me to further God’s kingdom. I will share my key learnings in a post afterwards.

Memorizing Scripture – “Anyone want to join me?”

Another main reason for sharing this goal is to encourage and embolden you to jump in. I’m not asking you to memorize an entire epistle or book, but you can start by one verse. Or you could memorize an entire chapter. The key is to push yourself and embrace this life-changing challenge, a worthy call.

I hope that you will prayerfully consider joining me. It will be good for us.  If you’re interested, please email me at paul.j.sohn@gmail.com

Question: What do you do to train yourself to godliness?