What does it mean to be godly?
There is no quick definition of godliness. This word only appears a few times in the New Testament, but the entire Bible is a book on godliness. Paul especially emphasises godliness in his first letter to Timothy. In Titus chapter 1, verse 1, he describes his own place in the world as being called to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.
Do we always strive to be godly?
I recently returned from a mission trip in Vinukonda, India with a small group from my church family. It was one of the greatest experiences; evangelising, growing, encouraging others, and spending our own time and money on those less fortunate — which is what Jesus calls us to do as Christians.
This experience was most moving, because we noticed that despite having so little, all the people we crossed paths with were filled with such joy in knowing Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour.
This was evident through their attitude to daily life: the way they clung to their Bibles, the love and hospitality they showed us, their passion for prayer. When we asked some of the pastors how they were able to walk for many kilometres, and go without food and shelter a few days at a time, their response was that they trusted God. They would do anything to further the Gospel, because when you serve the Lord, He always gives you the strength to do it.
Upon witnessing this kind of attitude and love for Christ every day, it made me reflect on my own attitude toward Christ. I recently read a quote by American preacher and author Timothy Keller, “No one simply denies the glory of God; we always exchange the glory of God for the glory of something else.” We all fall short of the glory of God, and often show a relaxed attitude to the glory of God, whether it is consciously or subconsciously.
How can we avoid being lukewarm Christians?
Not all of us see mission work and evangelism as something we all must do. We often don’t even feel like praying and reading our Bible either. The maintenance of our spiritual health is really important, the need for evangelism and mission work is also very important, but it is easy to fall into lazy habits and just skim the surface. If Jesus is the most important thing in this world, if we should keep our eye on the prize and not get caught up in the world, there needs to be a stronger sense of urgency, more self-discipline and intention.
It is a constant effort to pursue godliness and die to self in everything that we do. Paul really highlights this in his letters in the New Testament, that it takes perseverance and unrelenting effort to be godly. None of us can honestly say that we have always successfully pursued godliness over the things of this world. However, this is the best part about grace: we don’t deserve it, but we get it anyway.
Honest reflection on the word in order to grow
In this pursuit of godliness, the thought of being a lukewarm Christian should absolutely scare us to death. As we read more of the Bible, it becomes so evident that you are either a Christian, or you are not – there is no in between. Revelation chapter 3, verse 16 says “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth”.
If we actually let this sink in, it should really frighten us. Jesus pretty much says that everything lukewarm will be cast into hell.
In looking at all the stupid decisions made during our lives, most (if not all) are reflective of a lack of godliness, and a totally lukewarm attitude toward the Gospel. It is easy to have all the head-knowledge of who Jesus is and how we are saved, but it must be felt in our heart and lived out every day. We all make mistakes, but there are periods where we were not caught up in any ‘moment’.
We consciously and often subconsciously make stupid or sinful choices, because it is more comfortable to be ‘lukewarm’ and go with the world, than it is to be godly.
That being said, the good news here is that choosing Jesus over the world may indeed lead to short term pain and discomfort, but when Christ completes you as a person, your desires become that of God’s and there will be a much deeper understanding of joy and peace through godliness.
Another great quote I read recently is from nineteenth century Christian preacher Charles Spurgeon, “There are no crown-wearers in heaven who were not cross-bearers here below". Therefore, let us strive to choose godliness over the world, and not be lukewarm Christians. Let us look to Jesus in all that we do, seek first His kingdom, flee from lukewarm Christianity, and be in a constant pursuit of godliness until He calls us home.
Isabelle White is the Vice President Development of the ZEST Evangelical Service which operates a mission school, and facilitates the training of pastors in Vinukonda, India. Isabelle is a member of New Life Christian Church in Sydney, Australia and currently works as a French and English teacher. She was also a local government councillor in Blacktown during 2012-2016 and is still an active member in her local community.
Isabelle White’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/isabelle-white.html