Years ago, I joined those who call themselves runners. I started out slowly, running a mile or two and then three. In a few weeks time, I ran a 5K and then another and eventually, I ran two half marathons — 13.1 miles. I felt quite accomplished.

One particular 5K I ran was in the middle of July. Indiana in July is hot and this particular day was particularly hot. With actual temperatures over 90, the humidity made it feel like 100+. The race started at 1 pm, the hottest part of the day. Besides being hot, my confidence wavered.

As the runners gathered at the starting line, I noticed the people around me. Many of them were dressed in well worn running gear, but there was one woman who stood out to me. She wore the latest running styles – new shorts, shirt and shoes – looking like an accomplished runner. It unnerved me for some reason; I found myself doubting my ability to run this 5K.

We weren’t halfway through the race when I heard the woman confessing to her friends that she didn’t think she could finish the run. She was tired, hot and worn out. Wearing the right clothes did not prepare her to run the distance.

In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he compared spiritual life to running a race and finishing well. He didn’t say anything about acting right, wearing the right clothes or saying the right words. He said this:

Instead, train yourself to be godly. 8“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” 9This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it. 10This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.

1 Timothy 4:7-10

Training, training, training.

It isn’t about wearing the right clothes to look the part. It’s about spending time training yourself to run the race.

Have you substituted training for looking good, saying the right things, going the right places? Do you show up looking the part but without spending time doing the workouts?

And what does it mean to train myself anyway? Come back this week as I consider the lessons I learned on the run.

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