Is Godliness First on Your List?

isgodlinessfirstonyourlist“So, um, what if I don’t find godliness attractive?” The college student mumbled into the phone to her older sister. “What do you mean?” Her sister asked, caught off guard by the question. One minute they had been talking about spring break and the next … godliness.

“I’m drawn to guys for a lot of different reasons – great personality, boyish good looks, dry wit – but I’m never attracted to them because they are godly.” There was a long pause before her older sister responded, “Hmmm. Okay I see how that’s an issue for a Christian girl. Let me ask you this, how do you define godliness?” “Uh – morals, character and ethics, boring stuff,” the younger sister replied. “I think that’s part of the problem. You need to dig into the word and see how God defines as godliness. I think you’ll be surprised.”

Her older sister continued, “Do you value godliness in yourself?” “Of course I do!” The younger sister responded in outrage, “I love Jesus and am trying really hard to keep him first in my life.” The soothing mom-voice came out, “Calm down, that’s not what I am asking. Let’s try this a different way: If you had to fill out an online dating profile and list the top 5 things you offer to a relationship, what would they be?” The younger sister thought for a second, “Um, I have a good sense of humor, I am fun and spontaneous, a good athlete, I make good grades, and I cook a mean brownie. Is that what you’re asking?”

“I was asking if your relationship with God is the number one thing you think you offer in a relationship…and you just proved my point – it isn’t,” her sister explained. “When you think of relationships, God doesn’t really seem to be forefront of your heart. So until you see godliness as the best thing in you, I can’t see how you would ever find it attractive in a guy.”

  • Godliness is NOT a balding old man

I don’t know where I got this, but every time I hear the word godliness I picture a balding little old man in a worn gray suit and bow tie. He’s straight out of the 1950’s and has lived a moral life full of upright character and good works. I’m not sure when it happens, but somewhere along the way we begin to see godliness as good deeds. We define it as a pound of good works, mixed with a good dose of church attendance, a dash of puritanical morals, and a sprinkle of pious facial expressions.

Ugh. Nothing about that definition seems appealing, fun, passionate, or worth giving up anything for. Thank goodness that is NOT how scripture describes godliness!

  • Godliness is about God

Godliness is the people of God living in such a way that God is accurately reflected to the world. But godly living isn’t a list of moral do’s and don’ts, it is the natural result of spending time with God (1 Peter 1:3-7). As we spend time with him, being transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2), we look and act more and more like our God. Jerry Bridges, author of The Practice of Godliness, explains, “The New Testament word for godliness, in its original meaning, conveys the idea of a personal attitude of devotion toward God that results in actions that are pleasing to God.” Not outward good works or a moral to do list, godliness is the natural result of a person spending quality time with God out of love for God.

So godliness only looks like an old man if you actually are an old man.

  • Godliness looks like love

But what does godliness look like? I am a visual person. I still cannot bring myself to make a recipe that doesn’t have a picture of the finished product – because I need to see it. For me, it’s the same with godliness. It sounds very abstract and theoretical, and while I appreciate that in theory, the reality is that I need to see godliness in action if I am to pursue it. So, what does godliness look like?

God, obviously – it’s in the word. But that doesn’t really help me, because our human minds are simply too small to ever fully comprehend God. The Apostle John helps connect the pieces for visual learners like me.

God is love, 1 John 4:7-8.

Love is the whole character of God. It’s so beautiful, holy and healing that it’s difficult for our minds to comprehend. We cannot, in our small human minds, comprehend God’s love in its entirety. But we can see the many ways love is expressed. Paul helps us out with this one in 1 Corinthians 13. Love is like a puzzle made up of many pieces. One piece is patience, one is kindness, one is unselfishness, one is humility, one is consideration, one is peacemaking, one is forgiveness, one is truth, one is righteousness and holiness, one is long-suffering, one is belief, one is hope, and one is endurance.

That is love. That is God.

If God is love, then being like God looks like love.

Did you hear that?

Godliness looks like love

The same kind of love that compelled Jesus Christ to leave everything in heaven, take on the form of a man, suffer a horrible death, bearing the punishment of sin for a people who did not yet love him back (1 John 4:9-10). God’s love is an all-consuming, life-altering, die-for-you kind of love (John 15:14). That’s the love we are to give the world (1 John 3:16).. A love that defines us as God’s people (Mt. 22:34-40, 1 John 4:19).

Love God. Love others. That is godliness.

  • Godliness comes from God

Godliness is not something we ask for and God just dumps out on us from heaven. The only way we can develop godliness is to spend time with God. How do we learn to love, a.k.a. develop godliness? By spending time with the one who loves us – our Savior. Reading his word, praying, memorizing scripture, singing his praises. Being. With. Him.

The best thing you can do for your friends is to put Jesus first.

The best thing you can do for your church is to take time to rest in Jesus, not just be busy serving.

The best thing you can do for your kids is to have quality time with Jesus daily.

The best thing you can do for your spouse is to love Jesus more – with your time and affections.

The best thing you can do for your boyfriend is make time alone every day for Jesus.

Because the best thing I have to offer anyone

is my relationship with Christ.

“So, the question isn’t if I find godliness attractive in a guy, but if I am spending quality time with Jesus?” asked the younger sister. “And if he is spending quality time with his Savior, too,” added her older sister. “When you spend time with Jesus, you become like him – godliness – and you value those people who are also being transformed in the same way.”

“That is so cool,” the younger girl commented. “Godliness looks like love and comes from the overflow of my time with Jesus. So my relationship with God really is the best thing I can offer a guy! Sorry to cut this conversation short, but I really need to go read my Bible before class. Later!”

Her older sister smiled as she hung up the phone and went back to some Bible reading of her own.

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