How fitting it is that our focus on godliness follows our focus on love. After all, godliness is seeking to become more like God, and God is love.
In what is known as the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew five, we are called to be perfect as God is perfect. This verse is preceded with a call to love-especially our enemies-and followed by a caution to not practice righteousness in order to be seen and praised. This calling doesn’t ask us to be perfect and then leave us hanging. Jesus instructs us how to practically walk out this calling. Yet if I turn my faith-based salvation into a works-based pursuit, I miss the mark!
How grateful I am that I can’t achieve this perfection on my own. It is so much easier to surrender to Jesus’ love and Lordship when I know that “the way in is the way on.” In other words, in the same way that I needed a Savior the day I chose to follow Jesus, my same Savior teaches me, refines me, and loves me-all through the Holy Spirit. “The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” (Romans 8:26-27) The Holy Spirit helps us bear the fruit of the Spirit as we stay connected to and abide in the vine (John 15:1-17 and Galatians 5:22-23). As we abide in God, we become the embodiment of love found in 1 Corinthians 13.
Another passage that speaks directly toward living a godly life is found in 2 Peter one. It begins with the assurance that to those who have received faith, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” Praise God that we don’t have to muster up what we need in and of ourselves as that wouldn’t be possible! Yet neither are we called to be passive. Check out verse five through eight for qualities that will keep us “from being ineffective and unproductive in (our) knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So how do I balance the call to pursue godliness with the fact that Jesus already qualified me to walk with confidence into the presence of our righteous and holy God?
1 Timothy 4 says to “train yourself to be godly…(as it) has value for all things” And yet in our pursuit of godliness, we often leave the nourishing truths of the faith for “godless myths and old wives tales” with which we are called to have nothing to do. Today I often reference larger sections of scripture to embed the word of God in our hearts-not in isolation, but also in context. 1 Timothy 4 ends with the reminder that saving “yourself and your hearers” comes by persevering in your life and doctrine. Dear friends, let us pursue godliness without falling into traps and snares that lure us away from life and peace. May God through his Holy Spirit reveal his nature to us and may His nature become our own as we love God and love his people.
We would like to thank Mary Coleman for writing this blog post.