“…Rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” I Timothy 4:7b-8 (NIV)
Paul has given Timothy many instructions for life and godliness. He is teaching him not to follow man-made ideas, myths and lies but to seek and pursue godliness. In reading about the meaning of the word translated as “godliness”, I found these words: “piety, to be devout, characterized by a Godward attitude, reverence and respect towards God”. We might think godliness would be defined by a list of expected behaviors but it fact it is about living to please God and to bring Him glory. It is living a life that is focused on God. It reminds me of what Jesus said is the greatest commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37 (NIV)
Training yourself to be godly is not about behavior (change in behavior might be an end product but it is not the focus). It is about a heart attitude and what we are focused on. Is my heart focused on God? Am I living to please God? How do I train myself to live with a Godward attitude? Colossians 3:1-2 gives us an idea, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (NIV) Maybe it starts with what we think about. This also makes me think about Christ when He was living on earth. He lived for the purpose of pleasing His Father and doing His work. “Jesus gave them this answer: ‘I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees the Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son does also.’ ” John 5:19 “By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” John 5:30 (NIV) Jesus was focused on serving and glorifying His Father.
Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21 (NIV) Maybe it is about what we treasure. Do I treasure things on this earth more than knowing and pleasing God? What is my heart set on? Sometimes it helps to understand something if we look at the opposite. What is the opposite of godliness? The opposite would be godlessness. To live a godless life is to live with no thought of God at all. The person who lives their life for this earth with no thought of what pleases God, knowing God or seeking God, that person is godless. I think the world constantly pulls us to live this way. We have to resist, we have to choose to seek God. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ…” Titus 2:11-13 (ESV) the person who is living a godly life is waiting for their hope. They know it is not found in this temporary life. Paul says in I Timothy 6:6, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” (NIV) When we can live in a way that our focus is on God, we no longer are looking for our hope and fulfillment on this earth and we are content. When we stop striving, grasping, thinking that getting more and more in this physical world will fill our hearts, when we find our contentment in knowing God and in having our basic needs met (I Timothy 6:8) then we will find peace the world does not understand and then we have learned to be godly.
So how do I train myself to live this way? I wish I could say I have arrived and that this describes my life. But I still struggle with living for this world. I struggle to keep my heart and mind focused on God. Learning to be content is a daily battle. Just as an athlete has to train every day to keep his/her body in top shape, so we have to train ourselves everyday. Every day that we seek God first, every day that we search His word for guidance, every time that we stop and pray, every time that we say no to godless living and remember that we live for our God and Savior, every time we listen and obey, is a step in godly living.
This is what I want. I want my life to please my Father. As Paul said, godliness has eternal value. It not only brings blessings here but also allows us to store treasures in heaven. I want to train myself to be godly by choosing step-by-step to focus on loving and following my Lord Jesus Christ.
Father, I know I belong to you. All I have is yours. All is a gift. Help me live to please you and to bring you glory. Jesus, please help me to daily choose to follow you. Help me one step at a time to choose to be godly. Whatever I do, help me do it for your glory.