In March 2016, thirty-six-year-old Adam LaRoche, the first baseman for the Chicago White Sox professional baseball team in the US, resigned after he was told not to bring his fourteen-year-old son into the team’s clubhouse as often as had been his practice. LaRoche walked away from a $13-million contract. Simply put, he refused to place money or fame before family. He announced his retirement in a tweet that read, “Thank u Lord for the game of baseball and for giving me way more than I ever deserved! #FamilyFirst.”

What kind of person so readily gives up that much money and fame?

I don’t think LaRoche could have walked away from so much cash or the other benefits that came from being a famous athlete without having done so incrementally. That one big decision was the result of many small ones. We can be assured that for years he’d practiced obeying and loving God and his neighbor as He provided the strength to do so (Matthew 22:38-39).

Like professional athletes who daily train in order to develop and maintain the physical and mental fitness and also the technical skills needed to consistently do well in their sport, so believers in Jesus are called to practice holiness. Paul exhorted Timothy to “train [himself] to be godly. ‘Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come’ ” (1 Timothy 4:7-8).

When we say “yes” to God and “no” to selfishness—by remaining in Him, we cultivate the fruit of the Holy Spirit and continue our training in “godliness” (Galatians 5:22-23). God trains us in what it means to truly love Him and others—including fourteen-year-old sons.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Deuteronomy 31:1-8