1 Timothy 4:7b–11
7b Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8 for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. 10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. 11 Prescribe and teach these things.
I believe that most of us would do some pretty crazy things with the right motivating factor. I remember our joy at finding out that Melissa was pregnant, and then being ecstatic to find out that it was a girl. Then, as the months wore on, the daily discomfort and swelling started to set in for Melissa. Yet, that was nothing compared to the sheer agony, and I do mean agony, of labor. I had never before and have never since seen my wife in so much unmitigated pain than when she was in labor. Yet, the discomfort didn’t stop there. Then began the sleepless nights of a new baby in the house, and the never ending neediness of a newborn having to be watched constantly, fed repeatedly, which led to changing more diapers in a day than my socks in a month. What is much more amazing than all of this is that we were equally excited to do it all again with our second child! Were we insane?
Well, what the great many of us who have shared this experience know is that it is not the difficulties that mark the experience. It is the joy of sleeping with my baby girl in my arms for the first time. It is the promise of her calling me daddy with that voice that melts my heart. It is knowing that for years her favorite person to dance with will be me. You see the hope of the future will drive us to great lengths in the present.
This is why Paul encouraged Timothy to teach fellow believers to fix their hope on God and the sure and certain hope of His ultimate salvation for each believer. While many in the world strive endlessly toward the hope of this life’s future (money, security, love, family), we can fix our hopes, dreams, and aspirations on becoming more like God in His character. The character that was most vividly displayed in the life of Christ.
I wonder though, would I be willing to go through the pain and agony that my wife went through in order to be able to “know Him” in “the fellowship of His sufferings,” like Paul (Philippians 3:10). You see Paul went to great lengths to do whatever it took to be more like Christ. He knew that all else was of “little profit” while “godliness is profitable for all things.”
As my wife and I didn’t place the emphasis of bringing our two new children into the world on the pain and agony but instead on the hope of what was to come, the emphasis here is not on the laboring and striving but on the hoping. You see when we place all of our hopes on God and His glory and on what he desires out of our lives now and what He will eventually bring in the future, the hard work and striving will just be a natural byproduct.
What motivates us? What gets us up in the morning? What are we laboring and striving for, and what does that show about where our hope lies? May we be those who fix our hopes, dreams and aspirations on our living and saving God and on daily becoming more like Him!