GODLINESS: THE MORE HUMBLE WAY
“Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
// James 1:21
When we hear the word ‘godliness,’ it basically means to display and emulate the qualities we find in our Father – to live like God, taking on His character and values. This word can easily be misinterpreted and often evokes an immediate outward response where we try to change our behavior in and through our own power and ability, striving to be more godly.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, as godliness requires discipline. But for human beings to embody godliness we must begin by realizing how far we fall short of ‘godliness’ in our lives. We must first go to those dark places, acknowledging our sin and separation; we acknowledge that our own human condition and sin differ so much to the form of God, even though we were created in His very image [Gen 1:27]. We need to first realize how impossible it would be for us to be like Him and how far we are from being like Him. This is not just a position of weakness and despair, but most importantly it is a position of humility.
Humility is the beginning of godliness. Humility is the starting point for our journey into a godly life. Humility is the character God so clearly and radically revealed to the world through His shocking plan to send His Son, the Son of God, to live on earth as a Man, and then sacrificing His Son on the cross for all of us. So to be godly, we must begin with cultivating humility – the humility to accept His character over our own, to realize He is right, He is wiser and that He has the answers, not us.
The most beautiful godly people I have ever met are those humble enough to realize that they are far from perfect or right, but who accept that God has more than enough perfection and righteousness for them – which He has gifted to them on the cross. He has made them godly, like Himself, to the point of calling them heirs, sons and daughters [2 Cor 6:18, Gal 3:26].
Pride, in my mind, is the opposite of godliness. Sometimes it helps to work backward: if we can starve pride in our lives, we can cultivate godliness. I don’t know about you, but when that beast of pride tries to invade my life, he tells me all sorts of things, such as I am right or deserving, feeding my ego. Or if that doesn’t work he tries another tactic, telling me that I am undeserving and not good enough, enticing me to display false humility, which is just another form of pride, dressed differently. Pride doesn’t want me to write this sentence, pride wants me to try to display to you that I do not struggle with pride. Pride is an invader that desires to pull down the Kingdom of Heaven and thwart the advance of the truth being revealed to His sons and daughters. Pride lifts up the self and pulls down the Father, soaking up the glory.
Humility starves pride. Consider Jesus, humble enough to wash His disciples dirty feet. Jesus – man and God - being baptized by a human being. Jesus, being humiliated and lied about and dying on the cross; so humbling, to allow His very creation to kill Him – that which He gave life, takes His life. But He was displaying, in the most powerful way, the primary character of godliness, humility.
// Georgie Kelsey