“How do I get to Carnegie Hall?”
“Practice. Practice. Practice.”
You’ve probably heard that before – it’s funny, but it’s absolutely true! If we want to make it to the stage and perform at Carnegie Hall, we’ll have to practice and practice hard.
Here comes the link: what’s true for Carnegie Hall is true for Christianity, too. If it’s our aim to follow Jesus Christ and be a faithful child of God, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and practice. 1 Timothy 4:7b-8 says, “Rather train yourself for godliness; while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
Paul tells Timothy to “train” himself to be godly. The word means “exercise, work hard, or discipline.” It has to a lot to do with hard work and practice. Most of us don’t enjoy hearing that – a shortcut would be better (we think). but like Tiger Woods’ golf coach told him, “There are no shortcuts.”
Piano players have to practice. Violin players have to practice. Electricians have to practice and get better at what they do. Swimmers have to be in the pool a lot in order to improve. Becoming a better reader takes practice. Learning another language takes practice. If I want to preach or teach better, I have to do it a lot (meaning practice). Nobody is comfortable doing something the first time, but with practice comes greater levels of competence and confidence.
The first time we opened God’s Word it seemed foreign and we didn’t know quite how to interpret it. It gets easier with practice, though. Prayer seems very unusual to us at first, but with practice it becomes more natural. Sharing Christ with someone can be terrifying the first time, but with practice we become much more comfortable. If we want God to be more glorified by our worship and service, we have to practice. Forgiving people takes practice. Spending time with other Christians in order to do them good spiritual takes practice. Loving our neighbors, especially our family, takes practice and hard work. There are no shortcuts in any of these areas.
So, how do we get to spiritual maturity in our walk with Christ?
Practice! Practice! Practice!