1 Timothy 4:15 Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all.
In context, “these things” refers to prayer, sound teaching, disciplining yourself for godliness, setting an example in “speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity”, and developing and exercising your spiritual gift.
Take pains with them. Be absorbed. Be obsessed. This is a worthy goal. Verse 16 says “Pay close attention to yourself and your teaching”.
If we took the military and athletic metaphors for Christianity seriously, we’d have a better picture of what this should look like. Train for something, do it, review, fix deficiencies, repeat. For a Christian, this would look like prayer, spending time in the Word, mediatation, corporate worship, study, practicing spiritual disciplines, purging your life of impurities, exercising your spiritual gifts, honestly reviewing how you’re doing and working to improve.
Now I’ve gone and gotten myself convicted. I’m not obsessed with my spiritual life. I’m not obsessed with training myself to be godly. I do it because I should. I mostly worry about the daily affairs of life. My spiritual walk is more than just a casual or incidental concern, but only just a little more.
I prayed the other night that God would help me live as a man with a calling and show me what that even meant. How “coincidental” that I should have accidentally opened to this passage the next day!
A lot of guys I know are doing the Atkins diet. They are somewhat obsessed. It takes lots of discipline to avoid things they want to eat. But instead of eating the things they are not supposed to eat, they eat more of the things they are allowed to eat. They don’t (usually) “flirt” with cheating. They know the rules and stick to them. Cheating will just be self-defeating. They encourage each other and keep each other accountable. They measure their progress. They don’t just _want_ to lose weight and assume that somehow they’ll automatically do the right things. They take definite, sacrificial steps to attain their goal because they know it will be worth it. Why, one of them even showed up at our small group the other day with his own, Atkins-approved meal!
Look there, I’ve spiritualized the Atkins diet! I don’t usually argue from analogy, and I don’t like to spiritualize everything like that, but I do think these guys are a good example of what an obsession looks like. If I were half as committed to my spiritual walk as these guys are to their diets, I’d be a far better man.