You know those times when you’re reading your Bible and you read a verse, then again, maybe a third time. You know there’s something about that verse, but you just don’t know what? This post about pursuing godliness stemmed from one of those instances with 1 Timothy 6:11,
But as for you, O man of god, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love steadfastness, gentleness.
To be honest, I completely misinterpreted this verse at first! Somehow, I got it in my head it was listing all those qualities as the path to pursuing godliness. It wasn’t until I sat down to write it that I realised my mistake.
What is Godliness?
In complete honesty, I will admit to believing godliness meant being like God. Until, that is, curiosity got the better of me and I looked up the Greek word used for it. As it turns out, I was wrong (happens all the time). The Greek word used in all but one instance in the New Testament comes from the root word meaning “dutiful” and is defined as reverence and respect towards God. I thought it was being on the same level as God; the truth is we can never be. All God wants is for us to recognise His Perfect Holiness, respect it for what it is, and revere Him because of it. Oh, I just love getting slapped in the face by my own pride, don’t you?
In the entire New Testament, almost all the uses of the word “godliness” are found in 1 Timothy. From this book, I have found seven characteristics associated with godliness:
• Modesty, self-control, and good works (1 Tim 2:9-10)
• Peaceful, prayerful, and quiet lives (1 Tim 2:1-3)
• Contentment (1 Tim 6:6)
I am aware I listed the references out of order, but I did it on purpose. I want to take a deeper look into those first two verses (emphasis added is my own):
Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness – with good works.
Obviously, it does not come out and say “characteristics of godliness are…” because the Bible likes to make you think.
However, the subject of the sentence is women who profess godliness. That is our key phrase right there.
It’s saying look at this idea of a woman who has the quality of godliness. What is the evidence of this quality? Not focusing on external, shallow features but instead being concerned with features of the heart and mind.
Q and A
Q. I thought modesty was about wearing clothes that cover you up? Sounds pretty external to me. And what about good works? Everyone can see you helping other people, isn’t that external?
A. There are indeed visible outcomes of possessing these qualities. However, modesty is more than just covering your body and good works stem from a heart of giving. These qualities simply have external evidence of an internal attitude.
Q. How do modesty, self-control, and good works show reverence and respect for God?
A. For this, I’ll go back to scholar mode for a minute. The Greek word used for godliness in this verse is not the same as the other verses. In fact, this is the only verse in the New Testament where this word is used! The difference between this word and the word normally used is in the definition. While it still speaks of reverence and respect, it comes from a root word that means worshipping God. What I understand that to mean is that these qualities (modesty, self-control, and good works) are ways that we (women) can worship God.
Why Pursue Godliness?
To put this simply, because the Bible tells us to, which means it’s important to God. I mean, of course it’s important to Him, it all comes back to that coincidentally bolded sentence (wink wink) in the first section! God wants us to respect that He is the only Perfect One and revere Him because of it.
2 Reasons to Pursue Godliness
1. Valuable in every way (1 Timothy 4:7-8)
Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train 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.
These verses really spell it out for us: godliness is valuable. It even compares it to the lesser value of bodily (external) training. It might just be me, but I’d say that ties in quite nicely with what we just discussed in the previous section.
2. Avoid being unfruitful (2 Peter 1:3, 5-8)
Beyond the scope of 1 Timothy, godliness is also mentioned in 2 Peter 1:3, 5-8. I won’t type it all out (it’s quite lengthy) but know that it lists several qualities to strive for, including godliness. After the giant list it states the reason you want these qualities (verse 8):
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let me just clarify for those who don’t know and/or didn’t look up the passage, this is not the passage that describes the 9 fruits of the spirit. That’s in Galatians 5. In the Christian faith, bearing fruit is something we all should desire. Matthew 7:19 tells us explicitly why:
Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not particularly inclined to be thrown into the fire! So if godliness will help me steer clear of that, then godliness I will pursue.
My sincere hope is that SOME part of this post spoke to you. Whether to reveal something new, bring a new perspective on a familiar topic, or even to confirm previous thoughts. I can say that this entire post spoke deep into my heart. It’s so true when they say before ministering to others you minister to yourself. In other words, I hope you enjoyed it!