In Training

 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. ~ Titus 2:3-5

“Train” is an interesting word to be paired with love. Dictionary.com defines the verb train as “to develop or form the habits, thoughts, or behavior of (a child or other person) by discipline and instruction” or “to make proficient by instruction and practice, as in some art, profession, or work.” And yet, we often view love as being something innate or natural. Surely, a mother cannot help loving her child. A good friend loves her own loyal friend back. And yet, we also know too well the fickle nature of humanity – and of our own broken selves!

And even if we could not see our own shortcomings, reading that beautiful description of true and Godly love reminds us:

 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

To train ourselves to love others with that kind of love is surely a monumental task!

And yet, we return to that word “train.” It has some important implications.

My need to be trained reminds me that I may not already be adept at it! There are others that I can and should learn from. Training speaks too not of perfection but progression (growth!). And yet progress in training cannot be gained unless I am intentional. Training of any kind requires grit, effort and discipline. Paul reminds us in another place:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. ~ 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

And yet within that training (and all the spiritual “sweat” it entails) lies hope.

Hope that God can and will help.

Hope that I can do better.

Hope that this training to love will not end in physical stamina nor strength but in eternal dividends.

Rather train yourself for godliness; for 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. ~ 1 Timothy 4:7-8

Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

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