Godliness. That’s a toughie, isn’t it? It’s broad, up in the air, and, like, way too hard to achieve.
That’s what’s next up in line in our series from 2 Peter 1:5-8.
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
To be honest, while I was thinking about writing about godliness this week, I didn’t really know what it meant. It was…well…broad, up in the air, and, like, way too hard to achieve.
Some synonyms for “godly” (courtesy of my computer’s automatic thesaurus) are ‘religious,’ ‘devout,’ ‘holy,’ ‘pious,’ and ‘saintly.’
Boy if that doesn’t scream out “We live by works!” I don’t know what does. I certainly don’t think that’s what Paul is getting at here.
Let’s get a little broader picture by looking at the word ungodly. My thesaurus says ‘blasphemous,’ ‘profane,’ ‘disrespectful,’ ‘sinful,’ and ‘wicked.’
Okay, so that makes me feel a bit better. I mean, I don’t use profanity, disrespect God, or any of that stuff.
It kind of gives one the holier-than-thou sort of mentality. As Christians, we’re often so consumed with the idea of being a Christian and acting like a Christian that we forget the reason we are a Christian. Godliness isn’t being holy, pious, self-righteous and religious. It’s not about not being ungodly, either.
Let’s take a look at Webster’s New World dictionary, which simply says: devoted to God.
And from the back of my Bible it says: devotion to God; living according to God’s standards.
Read Psalm 1:
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.
So often we stop right there, feeling pretty good about ourselves. It’s easy not to be ungodly; to be a good person, love as much as you can, try to be happy, not do drugs, stay pure till marriage….all of that bad stuff. I’m a pretty good Christian, right?
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.
THAT’s godliness, right there.
Delight in God. Do we really delight in our Lord? It’s easy to fall into the mundane I’m-a-Christian sort of walk. But we are supposed to delight in God. Do I delight in my Heavenly Father the same way I delight in the things of this world? The people around me?
I don’t know about you, but I’m one of those people who are easily amused. I like things that flick, that sparkle, that bounce, that pop. Little things can make my day.
Does God make my day like that? That’s what delighting in Him is. Just living with that sheer joy of knowing that God is greater, bigger, stronger, and He’s your friend.
I want to go back to that definition mentioned earlier: living according to God’s standards.
This isn’t so hard to comprehend, really. We tend to go – yet again – into the mindset of just doing good. I mean, God’s standards are, like, doing good things, helping people, doing what’s right, not sinning…all that stuff. Right?
But it’s not just living according to God’s standards. It’s not living according to my standards.
Oswald Chambers writes,
To become one with Jesus Christ, a person must be willing not only to give up sin, but also to surrender his whole way of looking at things.
Remember when we talked about masks – the idols that blur our vision from what Christ wants us to see? Godliness isn’t just about not being ungodly – it’s forsaking our own idea of godliness for God’s idea of godliness. Living according to God’s standards means that my standards must become His.
So…why is godliness after perseverance? Why isn’t it sooner on the list?
Go back to that word devotion. Synonyms for that word are attachment, loyalty, dedication, attentiveness, commitment.
Early in the beginning of our Christian walk, when we’re doing all this diligence, faith, virtue, knowledge thing – that’s our initial commitment. We commit our lives to Christ, but then, suddenly, it’s not all the unicorns and rainbows we might have thought it was going to be. Life is rough, and God wants us to be purified for His glory. So He puts us through a lot of painful, tough things – teaching us to persevere. But through the perseverance, what holds true?
Our devotion to Christ. Our loyalty, our commitment.
Another one of those awesome synonyms for devotion is religious zeal.
Now that’s got a ring to it that we didn’t hear before. Zeal. Enthusiasm. Passion. Craze.
See, we often think that just being good is enough. That just doing what’s right and not doing what’s wrong is enough to please God.
God wants us running, full speed, unhindered, into His arms. Not just trotting along, but running. Full on. Not just forsaking all we have, but giving all that we have.
This is what it means to be godly.
Luke 14:28-30, 33-35 – For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it – lest after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘this man began to build and was not able to finish.’…so likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out.
That sure is a mouthful. Let’s take this verse apart.
For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it?
When we start projects, we look at the material we’re going to need, and plan out how much time it will take and how we will use the materials. When going on a trip, we list out what we need to bring, how long it will take, and how we are going to get there.
Jesus says that we need to look at the cost of following Him. He doesn’t want to scare people from being a Christian, but He wants you to know that it requires you to give up all you have – so that He can satisfy you completely.
Verse 30: lest after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘this man began to build and was not able to finish.’
Are we lukewarm Christians? We’ve built for ourselves a generation of Christians who are only halfheartedly following Christ. They don’t really care about what they believe and the implications it has on our lives. And what is the result? How does the world see us?
Do you know what the one word is that most non-Christians use to describe Christians?
Is that a life of godliness, of devotion to God? Have we really counted the cost of following Christ and gone through with it?
Verse 33: so likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep – to gain what he cannot lose. (Jim Elliot)
Like I mentioned above, being godly isn’t just about not being ungodly. It’s about taking specific steps in devotion and love for Christ.
Verse 34: Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?
Godliness is good. Being godly is a great thing. But when we become so self-righteous and self-centered just because we’re not ungodly, Jesus says later in that verse that it is not fit for the dunghill.
Jesus talks later in the Gospels that if we are lukewarm He will spit you out of His mouth.
Are we being lukewarm Christians? Not ungodly…but not really very godly either?
The most godly character that first comes to mind from the Narnia series is Reepicheep. Have you ever admired the devotion of that little guy? Not only has he given up his world, the pleasures of the world, and the safety of a nice little mouse hole, but he lives his life specifically using his talents and abilities to know and serve Aslan. His heart’s desire is what? To go to Aslan’s Country. To be with Aslan Himself.
But to reach that place, what does He do? He orders every aspect of His life to Aslan’s standards. Devotion. Godliness.
We worship the God who created the universe. The same God who parted the Red Sea, who provided for Elijah, who healed the blind and who raised Jesus from the dead – He is the one we strive after; and the one who gives us strength.
My challenge to you this week is to be flavored salt. Not just decent salt, but flavored salt. Never be satisfied with just not being ungodly, but strive for godliness – with all perseverance.