1 Timothy 4:7–10; Titus 3:1–9comment (0)
February 14, 2013
By Michael Wilson
Related Scripture: 1 Timothy 4:7–10
Bible Studies for Life
Director, Resource Center for Pastoral Excellence, Samford University
THE PRACTICE OF GODLINESS
1 Timothy 4:7–10; Titus 3:1–9
Religious conversation often includes the use of words Christians understand but others outside the Church find meaningless. An example is the use of the word “godly” to describe someone. What does it mean to be a godly man or godly woman? What does a person have to exhibit in his or her life to qualify as a godly man or woman? If God alone is holy and different from us, sovereign and all-knowing, is it even appropriate for us to refer to someone as godly? God alone is God — and we are not. If we are not careful, we unintentionally create idols of people in the faith for whom we have great respect. Think about the number of so-called “godly” TV preachers and pastors of churches who by their ungodly actions brought harm to others and the cause of Christ. We should offer our attributions of godliness with care. Yet, surely there are criteria we can apply in our own efforts to live in the manner that God wants. For Christians, Jesus offers the model of godly living. His words and actions show us what it means to live a life truly worthy of being described as godly. Today’s lesson offers practical insight from Paul as he taught Timothy about the life of godliness.
The Benefit of Godliness (1 Tim. 4:7–10)
The key words in verse 7 are “train yourself in godliness.” Paul uses the metaphor of athletic training to emphasize actions that develop one’s faith. Just as athletes engage in ongoing physical conditioning to strengthen their bodies, training in and for righteousness must be ongoing. Regrettably, many of us are seriously out of shape spiritually. The word used by Paul for godliness is a form of the Greek word eusebius. The word can be understood as a sense of awe in the presence of the divine or holy. Attitudes of humility, reverence, obedience and worship are appropriate elements in the meaning of this word. Foremost in our understanding of godliness must be that humility and reverence before God with obedience and righteous living are necessary if we hope to live lives of godliness.
The Basis of Godliness (Titus 3:1–8a)
Another pastor mentored by Paul dealt with similar challenges as Timothy. Titus traveled with Paul on church planting excursions. He remained in Crete helping the fledgling Christian community develop their faith. Paul instructed Titus to remind believers to behave in ways that demonstrated application of Jesus’ teachings. Their righteous behavior would be evidence of godliness.
Paul’s words to Titus remind us of words he offered the Church in Galatia: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal. 5:22). What better description of godly living can be found?
Another way to understand godliness is to consider what god-less-ness means. Like the believers in Paul’s time, we too have lived in foolish, disobedient ways, contrary to the way of God. We have not always told the truth. We have not always been kind. We still find it hard to love our neighbor. Yet we know a different way because of Christ. His example of living is our model for godliness.
The Devotion to Godliness (Titus 3:8b–9)
Paul told Titus to “insist emphatically” that the believers keep working to live in a manner worthy of being called godly. They should devote themselves to good works, avoiding peripheral issues of the faith that divide and create quarrels. Instead, they should focus on more important elements of godliness: reverence, humility, kindness, love. The clearest statement of God’s character and activity is found in the verse, “God is love” (1 John 4:16). What it means to live a godly life is very simple — but we struggle daily to put this in practice.