Paul says that these worldly approaches to relationships are not what our relationships are to be. Our relationships are to be as a properly functioning family. Each member is to receive due respect that pertains to the various relationships within the church. We are to treat older members honorably, as we would our own fathers and mothers. And when we deal with younger people, we want to regard them as brothers and sisters and to treat them with the kind of purity and respect that we would expect to use with members of our own family. 

As we now come to a new section, Paul begins to talk about relationships, which we can think of as a third major section of this letter. He began with doctrine, because that is the foundation. Then, second, he went on to say that doctrine will affect how one lives. Now we come to the third point, which is that how we live as Christians will inevitably affect our relationships with other people. Godliness, you see, is also to be expressed in human relationships, as well as in our relationship with God. If we claim to have a close relationship with God and yet have bad relationships with other people, Paul would ask, “Well, what kind of godliness is that?” You have to put true godliness to work, as it expresses itself in the interchanges of life.

I think Paul is suggesting that if we are diligent in our godly service of Christ, we have great encouragement as we do that because of what he says in verses 9 and 10: “This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.”

In the area of physical exercise, Paul says it is of some value. It’s better to be in good shape than in poor shape. But even if you are in the best physical condition and health, no matter how hard you work to keep it that way, Paul knows that there is a limit to which that will be beneficial. For one thing, your body will get weaker and weaker as it ages, no matter what you do. And for another thing, it is the wrong priority to be more concerned with the condition of your physical body than with your spiritual person and the means by which we are to grow in holiness. No matter how much time and money is put into taking care of your body, it will eventually die and there’s nothing you can do to stop the process. But the spirit and the soul are going to live forever.

It’s important to notice that as Paul writes, he is talking about teaching. When he’s talking about godliness, he’s not putting Christian experience over against teaching, as if now suddenly we’re going to live by experience and not by the Word of God. Paul has already told Timothy to stand fast on and uphold sound doctrine. Make sure Jesus Christ is at the center of your faith because he is the only mediator on our behalf before God. Paul who began that way is not suddenly shifting gears and saying that now his emphasis is on experience. Rather, what he means is that any balanced Christian life is going to have teaching and experience going together. Doctrine and life must belong together because the life is going to be determined by the doctrine.