What on earth does “godly” mean?

What does it mean to be godly?

Have you ever met a person who exudes godliness? What was that person like?

  • I remember years ago meeting some elderly people who embodied peace and joy. Is that godliness?
  • I had the privilege to meet a Romanian woman who had been put in jail and had suffered for Christ in many ways. She was peaceful, calm, and God’s power was manifested in a frail body. Was that godliness?
  • I inwardly criticized someone for refusing to stand up to his critics, for seeming weak and being sweet. Later, I realized that he was Christ-like, not me. Is that godliness?
  • In the Bible, women are supposed to immitate those women who profess godliness in their dress, actions, and lifestyle (1 Timothy 2:9-10). What kind of women are they?

So, what’s godliness? What does it mean to be godly?

I found a definition that was basically conforming to God’s wishes and laws, but frankly, I think godliness means much more than that.

Godliness begins with belonging to the Lord. It also is about being set apart—actually living to please God. It’s a life purpose. But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him (Psalm 4:3).

How can we achieve true godliness? Do we merely adjust our virtual haloes and soldier on? Do we fake it ’til we make it?

How does it happen?

It doesn’t happen overnight. Godliness is a result of the process of sanctification—what God does in our lives as we grow in Him. Most Christians take years to be conformed into the image of Christ.

Salvation begins to teach us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world (Titus 2:12). Notice that first we need to deny ungodliness and sinful desires. We put away the bad stuff and add the good: sober living, righteousness, godliness.

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers has this to say about living soberly, righteously and godly: “In these three terms the blessed life our Lord would have His own to lead on earth is summed up—to ourselves, to our neighbour, and to our God. The first, “soberly,” to ourselves—wisely and temperately, keeping ever a mastery over our passions; the second, “righteously”—justly and honourably, having due regard to our duty towards our neighbour; the third, “godly”—piously, ever remembering to live as in the presence of the Eternal.”

Living in the consciousness of God’s presence takes practice, discipline, and Christian growth.

The Lord describes this process this way: According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue … And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity (2 Peter 1:3, 6-7).

The power to be godly comes from God. He has called us to holiness. We can add virtues to our lives, one of them being godly—through His power.

The Bible says we need to follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness (1 Timothy 6:11b).

One of the characteristics I’ve seen in godly people is a beautiful presence. It’s almost as if their faces radiate the Lord—reflecting Him. They smile. They’re calm, peaceful, and humble. They serve others. And, when they speak, wisdom speaks. They walk with God and know the Bible. It’s wonderful to be acquainted with people who are truly godly.

I want to be like that.

Follow after … godliness.

2 Replies to “What on earth does “godly” mean?”

  1. Thx. Lou Ann… Such high requirements. I m thinking along with you that this is a continual walk toward this life style and wont be complete until we see Him. Thx for sharing. Love in Christ. Karen

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