So much is going through my head regarding the news in our nation lately. I am not going to talk about that at the moment but what God has been teaching me right now. Hope it encourages you and refocuses your heart and mind as well.
I started reading through the T books lately just for a change...I and II Thessalonians, I and II Timothy and Titus. I started noticing a theme stemming from a single verse. The theme is godliness.
I Timothy 4:7 says "Have nothing to do with godless myths...rather TRAIN YOURSELF TO BE GODLY."
Because training is a serious thing that requires much thought, effort and devotion, I just sat in this verse and meditated on it a bit. After digging deeper, I wanted to share what I found (more for my own sake than for your yours).
It was encouraging to me in a new way that godliness isn't something we are just expected to have when we give our lives to Christ. It isn't just naturally the new way we now live when we become Christians. The bible says we have to TRAIN ourselves to be godly; meaning that unless we do this, we will live in an ungodly way. Unless we are committed to it and diligent in it, it won't happen. When I was in Junior High, I remember a big thing was the symbol of the Christian fish, the ichthys. I didn't understand all it meant but remember a T-shirt that showed a school of fish going the same direction, and the ichthys fish going the opposite way. It said, "Go against the Flow".
Swimming upstream is hard work. Being counter-cultural is really hard. It can feel lonely and exhausting. It is so much easier to give up, to just accept the standards of our culture, to stop trying to live according to God's word. But being godly isn't supposed to be easy (glad it's not just me!)
I don't like discipline. I don't like rules and being forced to do things or say no to things I like. But as I read this scripture, I was reminded the benefits of it. I remembered that all training is REALLY hard but produces something so great! To put it short, it sucks, but it's worth it! Especially at the beginning, training is awful and painful. But after it becomes your daily habit, your body starts to crave it. We realize that we need discipline. We need training. We need self control.
Hebrews 12:11 says it best. "No discipline is pleasant at the time, but painful. But it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."
Our society doesn't have much to say for godliness these days. People are much more concerned with not offending others than being a godly person. They are more concerned about being happy than being godly. It seems to be the end goal in life. That's why I felt like I really needed to remind myself of the truth, of my purpose and 'end goal'. It's not happiness. It's not following my own passions and desires. It's godliness, Christ-likeness. Instead of me being all worked up over things I can't control going on around me, I needed to fill my mind with truth of what I should be pursuing.
I read so much about godliness as I continued reading through I and II Timothy and I and II Thessalonians. Even in Titus! You should start noticing the word godliness as you read through scripture, because although it isn't easy, it's of such great worth! Here are a few things I learned regarding the topic of godliness in these couple books.
1. (First I found that I Timothy 3:16 says that "Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great..." So if it's a bit of a mystery to you, you aren't alone.)
2. Next we see the incredible value of it! I Tim 4:8 "godliness has value for ALL things, holding promise for the present life and the life to come."
3. It is a fight to be godly. 2 Tim 6:12 "Fight the good fight of faith."
4. "Godliness with contentment is GREAT GAIN." (I Tim 6:6) Being content with what we have, not all caught up in pursuing what we don't have brings great gain.
5. We have to pursue godliness. It doesn't just happen. I Tim 6:11 "Flee from (the love of money) and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness."
6. Lastly, 2 Timothy 3:12 says that the godly will be persecuted. "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." Awesome. At least we are in it together. It's coming!
So we should expect persecution, realize it will be a fight, know it will be unpleasant at times, but be encouraged in that it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace and is of great gain. It will be worth it!
Here is what a godly person looks like, in case you needed a reminder. (This is only from 1 Timothy...much more all throughout scripture obviously)
A godly person
1.4 has solid doctrine, doesn't quarrel
1.5 has a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith
2.1 intercedes for our kings and leaders
2.9 godly women dress modestly
2.11 does good deeds, submits to authority
3.3 is not a lover of money; has a good reputation with outsiders
4.12 sets an example in their speech, life, love, purity and faith
4.16 watches their life and doctrine closely and perseveres in them (no matter who around them compromises)
5.4 helps those in need
6.11 flees from the love of money
6.17 doesn't put their hope in wealth but in God's rich provision
I'll leave you with this. Though being godly is a bit of a mystery, we know that it's by God's grace that we can pursue it and grow in.
Titus 2:11 "For the grace of God has appeared to all men, teaching us to say NO to ungodliness and worldly passions, to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for the blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people of his own, eager to do good."
A godly person is one whose hope is NOT in this world, our government or president. Our hope is in Christ's return, his glorious appearing! Come Lord Jesus! Let us be strong and blameless and keep the faith til He comes!