As believers, growing in godliness in a major pursuit. We want to learn to be more like God. We want our lives to reflect His character so we can point others to Him. But what does it mean to be godly?
What is the Biblical Meaning of Godliness?
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Paul’s first letter to Timothy spoke a lot about what it meant to be godly. The word eusébeia, translated as godly or godliness, occurs 11 times in the book of 1 Timothy.
The word translated as godliness in Timothy is the Greek word eusébeia, (pronounced yoo-seb’-i-ah). It could have been translated to mean piety; specially, the gospel scheme, godliness, or holiness.
Another word for godliness is piety which is reverence towards God and the things associated with Him.
Godliness, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is the quality of being devoutly religious or piety. But being godly is more than just an act of being religious. It goes beyond something we do and reflects the condition of our heart and our posture before God.
The root word for eusébeia is eusebḗs, (pronounced yoo-seb-ace’); meaning well-reverent, i.e. pious, devout, godly. This brings us full-circle to our English definition. A person who is godly then is one who follows God’s laws and shows Him the proper reverence.
What does it mean to be godly?
Let me explain what I mean when I say godliness is about our posture before God. I’m sure you know at least one person who professes to be a believer and does all the “right” things but they don’t seem to reflect the love that Christ said should be the identifying mark of His disciples. Sadly, they possess all the trappings of Christianity without having any of the heart.
A godly person is one who aspires to be like God. To tell you who God is would take more words than exist in the universe but we can begin by saying that God is good. He is the originator and giver of every good thing.
God is love (1 John 4:8). He is the originator and epitome of love.
The Bible tells us a lot about who God is and the person who wants to grow in godliness should become a student of God. Thankfully, we have an example in Christ. If you want to know what godliness is (and what it isn’t) look at Jesus.
Importance of Godliness
But why is godliness important? The Bible tells us to pursue godliness (1 Timothy 6:11 NIV). This tells me that godliness is not our natural state. How can it be when every intention of our heart is only evil continually and our hearts are desperately wicked? We only have to examine a child for a few minutes to understand that sin is such an ingrained part of our nature that no one has to teach a child how to do wrong…it simply happens.
Yet sin separates us from God and and calls for the death penalty, a price we cannot pay to repair our relationship with God. Thankfully we don’t have to because God graciously sent His Son as the perfect sacrifice for our imperfect lives.
Godliness is necessary if we are to be reconciled to God. If we want to receive the reward that comes from faithfulness, we have to put off our old character and take on the righteousness of God. Are you beginning to see the importance of having a godly character?
What Does the Bible Say About Godliness?
The Bible gives us many Scriptures on the importance of godliness and gives us the necessary resources to accomplish it.
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11 NIV).
For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come (1 Timothy 4:8 ESV).
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:12-12 NIV).
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:5-8 ESV).
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:12-12 NIV).
Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world (1 Timothy 6:6-7 ESV).
He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8 NKJV)
Download the Scriptures on godliness so you can have them in your resource kit as you continue to grow in godliness.
What is the Difference Between Holiness and Godliness?
You may wonder if there’s a difference between godliness and holiness. There is, but the difference is so subtle as to make it difficult to define.
One of God’s intrinsic qualities is His holiness. To be holy is to be set apart, to be sacred, something that is designated for a specific purpose. As people of God we are instructed to be holy because He is (Leviticus19:2).
But holiness is a trait that we can’tfully aspire to. We can reflect God’sholiness through communion with His Son, but it’s not an intrinsic part of who we are.
Godliness, on the other hand, is a trait that we can possess. As we become more like God, we display what it means to be dedicated to the pursuit of the things of God.
How to Grow in Godliness
So how do we go about building a godly character? It starts with an acknowledgment that we are sinful and are in need of a Savior. Next, we must pursue godliness. Psalm 1 gives us an outline of what it looks like to build a godly character.
1. Don’t follow the advice or counsel of wicked or ungodly people (verse 1).
2. Don’t associate or surround yourself with sinners and scoffers (verse 1).
3. Delight in God’s law (verse 2).
4. Meditate on God’s Word day and night (verse 2).
It seems fairly easy, doesn’t it? Yet it hints at habits that must become a part of our daily lives if we are to grow in godliness…habits like choosing our friends wisely, Bible study, and being careful about our watching and reading habits.
Review of Growing in Godliness: A Teen Girl’s Guide to Maturing in Christ
The rise of the internet has given us access to a plethora of information. This access is a double-edged sword—we have information to help us in various areas of our lives. But we also have access to information that maybe we should not be exposed to.
Our children also have this same access. Oh, there are parental controls to put limits and locks, but everyday hackers and malicious internet users find ways to bypass our security systems.
So, what’s a girl—or parent—to do when they want to protect their children from accessing information that’s not suitable for them? It comes down to equipping them with the knowledge to do the right thing even when we’re not there. We do that when we provide them with the right tools like a Bible and Bible studies written specifically for our young people.
Growing in Godliness: A Teen Girl’s Guide to Maturing in Christ by Lindsey Carlson is one such guide. It offers a ten-step guide for growing in godliness. As you go through each lesson, you are encouraged to partner with God, learn to depend on Him, and monitor your growth.
Know God: To depend on God we must learn to trust Him as we recognize our limits while acknowledging that God is limitless. But before we can learn to trust God we must get to know Him. We begin the process of knowing God as we spend time in Bible study and prayer.
Know yourself: To grow in godliness, we must learn to wait on God’s timing. While we may wish that we would immediately be transformed into perfect Christians the minute we accept Jesus and Lord and Savior, we must go through the process of sanctification.
Becoming a godly person is a process and we have to play our part even as we allow God to play His. We must practice godliness even as we pursue holiness. To do this, we must look at who we are in Christ and continue to strive towards the mark of perfection.
Run your race: As we grow in godliness, we must also check our growth. How will we know if we’re developing the character of God if we never take the time to check? Sometimes we don’t realize how much we’ve grown in godliness until we make time for self-reflection.
As we look back, we are encouraged by how much we’ve grown while recognizing that we still have a long way to go.
While I’m not Mrs. Carlson’s intended audience as I’m way past my teenage years, I still found things to ponder about how to grow in godliness as I read through this book. Growing in Godliness: A Teen Girl’s Guide to Maturing in Christ gives a clear blueprint as to what needs to be done as we grow in godliness.
Have you read Growing in Godliness: A Teen Girl’s Guide to Maturing in Christ? I’d love to hear what you thought. I received a copy of this book as part of Crossway’s Blog Review Program; a positive review was not required.
About Growing in Godliness: A Teen Girl’s Guide to Maturing in Christ
The teenage years are prime for developing beliefs and habits that will serve as a foundation for a lifetime of following Jesus. Young women need to be prepared theologically for the practical challenges that will come during their teen years—challenges such as finding a sense of belonging, fluctuating emotions, and making decisions about their future.
Through 10 practical lessons on topics related to identity in Christ, trusting God’s sovereignty, the importance of the church, the place of emotions, and more, this winsome book will teach girls how to seek maturity in Christ as they navigate the teenage years—setting them up to grow in godliness throughout the rest of their lives.
About Lindsey Carlson
Lindsey Carlson is a pastor’s wife and the mother of five children. She serves in ministry alongside her husband in Baltimore, Maryland, where they planted Imprint Community Church in 2017.
She enjoys teaching and discipling women in her local church and through writing and public speaking. You can find more of her writing at www.lindseycarlson.net.
Characteristics of Godliness
Micah 6:8 has epitomized the characteristics of godliness in a single verse. To be godly is to:
- do what is just
- love mercy, and
- walk humbly with God
There are many examples of godliness in the bible and you will notice they all exhibit the traits above. Just think about Abraham, Joshua, Joseph, Noah, Job, the apostles, Jesus…they all sought to do the right things, following the laws of God and showing love to their fellow man.
Growing in godliness is a critical skill for every believer. I encourage you to spend some time thinking about how you can strengthen your relationship with God.
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