The Pursuit of Godliness

The ancient church in Tagbah, Galilee

The Apostle Paul told young Timothy to flee from evil and pursue six virtues: “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11). In a previous devotional, we focused on righteousness. Righteousness is the opposite of emptiness which is a kind of evil (kakia) leads to a dead end.

The second virtue, godliness, can be described as the opposite of another kind of evil: poneros (πονηρός). The English word pornography is based on this kind of evil. (Pornography comes from the Greek words porn-, evil, and graphe, writing). The basic definition of poneros is worthless, and so poneros becomes wicked, evil, bad, even vicious, and degenerate. The devil himself is called poneros personified (Mt 13:19; J 17:15; Eph 6:16; 1J 2:13f; 5:18, 19)!

Thus, godliness is focused on living a fulfilling life, but it is deeper than just appearances. Paul warned Timothy about people who have “the appearance of godliness but deny its power” (2 Timothy 3:5). This is another example of hypocrisy. For the Greeks, a hypocrite is someone who is wearing a mask like the actors on an ancient stage. So many people pretend to be godly – they go through the motions of religion – but the critical element is missing.

So, what is the power of true godliness? First, godliness means depending on God’s strength and the power of the Holy Spirit. The Lord told Paul, “My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9), and he observed, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). Perhaps you’ve heard the expression, “Let go and let God”? Sometimes our trying to fix things only makes it worse! A godly person has learned to relax and trust the Lord will make things right.

Second, the power of godliness comes from observation and discernment. In Christ, our senses are trained to focus on the end of things. Where will this lead us? What are the consequences of the choices we are making? Rick Warren wrote:

You are free to choose what you surrender to, but you are not free from the consequences of that choice. E. Stanley Jones said, “If you don’t surrender to Christ, you surrender to chaos.” [1]

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes.”

Chose to be godly!

  [1] Warren, Rick. The Purpose Driven Life (p. 100). Zondervan.

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