I Timothy 4:7-8 "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."
You are probably already thinking about getting in good physical shape as the new year approaches as well we should. But what about spiritually? Shouldn't this be the starting point? Whenever we are dissatisfied with our lives in any way, we gravitate to the physical things, the things we can see. Rarely do we make a plan for the unseen, our own souls! Paul encouraged his protege Timothy, a young pastor in Ephesus, to train himself in godliness. While Paul acknowledged the value of working out physically, he was much more concerned for Timothy's soul. Isn't it strange how many of us were brought up to view the soul as something you scoop up from the reaches of hell as if it was some kind of object the size of a breadbox, some type of tangible material. So after we come to Christ, the soul goes unattended and uncared for. The only explanation that I can come up with is bad theology. The sanctification process of salvation gets reduced to moral deeds to be fueled by sheer will power. Our constant new years resolution failures should have informed us by now that we don't have what it takes to sanctify ourselves. Phillipians 2 tells us to "work out our salvation" and "it is God who works in (us)". So, this doesn't mean we don't participate in sanctification, it just means that our own strength (willpower) is NOT the source we draw from.
Paul tells us that godliness is of value in every way as it holds promise for the present life and for the life to come! He goes on to say we toil and strive in this training. It makes sense that there would be work involved in training right? Remember this, however. There's always a motivation behind everything. Why do we work so hard to train in godliness? Because, Paul says, "we have our hope set on the living God"! God himself is why we train! It's not so we can be better people. It's not so we will look better in the mirror. It's not to ease our guilty consciences. We train because we are preparing for a great wedding day where we will be wed to our Creator God who we will adore forever and where we will be supremely loved by Him!