Godliness, part 1 – What is it?

What is profitable for me in my life? What is profitable to you? I say I had a profitable day when I arrive home from work having accomplished a good day of classes and gotten a large amount of grading done. Then I will tell my wife that I had a profitable day. Sometimes I feel my day was wasted – of no profit. I struggled to work, classes seemed at a lower level, the students weren’t paying attention, I kept getting interrupted – I didn’t get anything done. I was not profitable.

We gauge profitability in different ways, but there are things that are profitable to us. An investment is profitable if it pays out good dividends. A workout is profitable if we feel sore, and our muscles are growing and stronger. A run was profitable if it burns the calories and energizes our body as we expect it should.

The Bible talks about being profitable too. Job asks if a man can be profitable to God – Job 22:2. Wisdom is profitable to our use of time – Eccl. 10:10. Scripture is profitable – 2 Tim. 3:16. People can be profitable to others – 2 Tim. 4:11. Good works are profitable – Titus 3:8. Bodily exercise is profitable – 1 Tim. 4:8.

[Bodily exercise profiteth little; but that means it does profit. I am not an exercise addict, and I do know that there is a danger – as in anything – of allowing something “good” to overwhelm the “best.” But exercise is good, and the Bible does say that it profits little. The comparison Paul is drawing is to something far better, and if one were to choose, then bodily exercise should be ignored. However, as we care for our individual bodies (temples of God) we should be mindful that we keep them in proper condition for His glory. This is not for our glory or looks, not because we are discontent with who God made us, but because we serve the living God.]

1 Timothy 4:7-8

But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

Godliness is profitable unto all things. There are things that are profitable, but godliness is profitable unto all things. I love absolutes in the Bible. It is the one place that can make an absolute statement with no higher authority to say otherwise. The Bible says it is profitable unto all things. This excites me! What is this godliness that is profitable unto all things? I can work on brotherly love, but that doesn’t help my witnessing. I can work on witnessing and that doesn’t help my relationship with my wife. (I speak as a man) But godliness is profitable unto all things! Isn’t that awesome? It is for me.

But what is godliness? What does this mean? The word only appears 15 times in the NT. 14 of them are translated from the same word. This word translated godliness is the idea of piety, reverence, respect, worship – towards God. It is the idea of being: God-ward minded – fearing, respecting, and worshiping God. It is when we are marked by reverence for God. This is what godliness is. It is all of these things. It is when we devote ourselves to God in such a way, that we are marked by it. It is obvious to others that we care about God.

Godliness is demonstrated in the fear of God. It is when we tremble before the revelation of our Judge. It is when we bow before our King. Do we fear God? Do people around us see this? People should. They should see us concerned with the fear of sinning against God. Joseph demonstrated this when he responded to Potiphar’s wife that he could not sin against God. The temptation to sin was restrained by the fact of who the sin was against.

Godliness is demonstrated in the reverence for God. It is the outward showing of our deep respect and awe for our Creator. It is when we accept with grace, patience, and thankfulness the frustrations and tribulations of life given by our Sovereign. It is the daily dependence on His Providence for our needs. These are seen over and over in the Psalms.

Godliness is demonstrated when we worship our Lord. It is when we praise our Provider. It is when we rejoice in our Savior. It is when we fellowship with our Friend. It is when we follow our Shepherd.

This is godliness. It is the outworking and demonstration of the many different facets of our relationship with God. It is the revealing to everyone in our lives that we are God’s. We belong to Him. We are His children and we proclaim that through every single thing we do. This is the essence of godliness.

This is what Paul says is profitable unto all things. When we live our lives in such a way to completely reveal Christ through us. Being godly is not something that can be hid. Being godly is being a light that shines in the darkness. Being godly is being salt. Being godly is allowing Christ to shine through us. It is removing ourselves as sinful individuals and allowing God to be seen in us in everything.

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