One Sunday on their way home from worship services, little Suzie turned to her mother and said, “Mommy, the preacher’s sermon this morning confused me.”
“Oh, why is that?” the mother asked.
“Well,” replied Suzie, “He said that God is bigger than we are. Is that true?”
“Yes, Suzie, that’s right.”
“But he also said that God lives in us. Is that true, Mommy?”
“Yes, dear, that’s true,” replied her mother.
“Well,” said little Suzie, “if God is bigger than us and He lives in us, wouldn’t He show through?”
Suzie’s right. And the Bible calls that godliness. It has to do with reverence. Piety. Holiness. And God-likeness.
Currently, we’re reading Paul’s letters to Timothy. And I was struck by the number of times he speaks of godliness. Nine times in six chapters. And four times in 1 Timothy 6.
Here’s a synopsis.
Paul urged Christians to pray for those in authority, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. (I Tim. 2:2).
Ladies are commanded to wear clothing that is “proper for women professing godliness” (1 Tim. 2:10).
He refers to God’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ as “the mystery of godliness” (1 Tim. 3:16).
Timothy is instructed to “exercise yourself toward godliness.” And to realize that “bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” (1Tim. 4:7-8)
Teachers must advocate “sound instruction” with doctrine that “accords with godliness” (I Tim. 6:3).
Avoid corrupt, arrogant people who stir up strife, possess an unhealthy interest in controversy, and flaunt their supposed “godliness as a means for financial gain” (1 Tim. 6:4-5).
The wealthy should learn to combine “godliness with contentment” and realize it’s a means of “great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6).
People of God and preachers of the gospel must flee from greed and pursue righteousness and godliness, along with faith, love, patience and gentleness (1 Tim. 6:11).
Hopefully, these brief observations will spur you to deeper thinking regarding godliness.
1. William Barclay says that the original word for godliness “is the nearest Greek word for religion; and when we begin to define it, we see the intensely practical character of the Christian religion. When a man becomes a Christian, he acknowledges a double duty, to God and to his fellow men.”
2. “Godliness,” writes Warren Wiersbe, “has to do with practical piety.” He says that it involves both character and conduct. Godliness, thus, is reflected not only in what we do, but in who we actually are.
3. While Bible study is important, it’s possible to possess a great deal of knowledge about God, yet fail to be godly. Our learning should issue itself in a new way of living. Our beliefs must be translated into better behavior.
4. Our pursuit of godliness requires a renunciation of ungodliness. Just as light is opposed to darkness and good is incompatible with evil, so is godliness adverse to ungodliness.
5. It requires work to grow in godliness. Just like physical fitness doesn’t happen accidentally. It takes training. Commitment. Diligence. Focus. And a continuous, energetic effort to mature spiritually.
Phillips Brooks observed that godliness is “the great purpose of life – the shaping of character by truth.” More important than golf scores, bowling trophies, or home run records, devotion to godliness should supersede all physical endeavors as we labor for an eternal reward.
6. Godliness is an inward quality that manifests itself outwardly. In all areas of our life. In our relationships. In our work. In our teaching. In our ministry. Even in the way we dress.
7. Godliness is more important than possessions. Popularity. Position. Pleasure. Or personal, prideful pursuits that satisfy our selfish ambitions.
Is it fair to ask, how big is your God? Is He living in you? Is He showing through?
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman