Every believer is called to pursue godliness. So how do we do this? For starters, we need to understand that this is not a legalistic endeavor. We don’t have the commitment or willpower to somehow make ourselves godly. A life given over to God can only be fueled and sustained by grace.
An Abandoned Pursuit
When was the last time you heard someone talk about godliness?
Frequently, I hear Christians talk about being more faithful, loving, or active in their church. But I can’t remember the last time I heard someone say, “ I want to be more godly.”
Why is there so little interest in godliness? Perhaps it’s because we don’t understand what it is. Maybe it’s because we have an aversion to things that sound legalistic, puritanical, or culturally irrelevant. Maybe it’s indicative of how worldly we’ve become. Our indifference towards godliness is alarming, especially when we consider the promises that the Bible associates with it.
The Blessings of Godliness
In I Tim. 4:7-8, Paul exhorts Timothy to “train [in Greek, gymnazo] 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.” Later in the same epistle, Paul states that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (I Tim. 6:6). The blessings of godliness are immeasurable and impact all of life. Think about the invaluable “gains” godliness can have on someone’s marriage, relationships, family, school, work, or ministry. It’s astounding! But even greater than these temporal blessings are the eternal rewards and joys promised to those who live a godly life. Knowing these promises, it’s no wonder that Paul urged Timothy to flee worldliness and relentlessly pursue godliness (I Tim. 6:11).
Godliness is indeed valuable “in every way.” But what exactly is it?
Devotion in Action
Godliness is more than an action. It’s a heart disposition of love, awe, and affection towards God that results in a life of joyful obedience and submission to God. In other words, it’s devotion in action. In his book, “The Practice of Godliness,” Jerry Bridges explains, “Godliness is more than Christian character; It is Christian character that springs from a devotion to God… So often we try to develop Christian character and conduct without taking the time to develop God-centered devotion. We try to please God without taking the time to walk with Him and develop a relationship with Him. This is impossible to do.”