Train yourself to be godly. (1 Tim. 4:7)

While studying martial arts in China, I came to understand the true meaning of the words kung fu. In Western civilization, kung fu refers to Chinese martial arts. But in the Chinese language, the meaning is different. Kung fu essentially has nothing to do with swords, kicks, or an animated panda. Kung fu is the discipline, devotion, and practice that is required to master any skill or task. A person can apply kung fu to succeed in business, excel as a competitive swimmer, write an award-winning novel, graduate with honors, or even become a more mature Christian.

Paul has already established the message of salvation by faith in Christ. He is not insinuating that Timothy can save himself by his efforts or that his spiritual perfection is all on his shoulders. But he includes this extremely important encouragement for Timothy—devote yourself to becoming like Christ. Don’t take your spiritual growth casually. Serious athletes can spend eight to ten hours a day practicing for their sports. Shouldn’t Christians exert their best effort in that which matters most for eternity? For Timothy, this meant watching his character and actions carefully. It meant responding to life’s situations as Christ would. And it meant aligning his beliefs to the truth of the Bible. Spiritual growth is guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit, and yet it also demands our best kung fu!

Pick a spiritual growth practice and exert your best kung fu today.

Jarod Osborne is lead pastor of Pathway Church, in Warsaw, Indiana. He is the author of Jaded Faith (WPH).

© 2019 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.