In previous posts, we have studied how one builds the Christian character on the foundation of faith in God. One adds excellent morals, knowledge of God’s word, the ability to control oneself in the boundaries of God’s laws, and the perseverance to endure until the end. These characteristics depend on one another for optimal growth. To these gifts, we must add godliness. Certainly, if we add all of the characteristics of 2 Peter 1, we will be like Christ. However, godliness, in this context, does not mean to be like God but rather to direct our attention towards God or to have reverence.
Directing our focus to God directs and strengthens the other characteristics. Faith must be directed heavenward, Hebrews 11:6. Moral excellence for its own sake may bring praise from men but one would probably discard it at the first ethical conflict. A person with moral excellence based on reverence will choose to do right even when it is not in his personal best interest to do so. Paul said, “Knowledge puffs up but love edifies.” Knowledge by itself is valuable, but better is a desire to know the will of God and to know about God Himself. Self-control is admirable in any person but God wants us to exercise self-control because of our desire to please Him. Perseverance truly finds its strength in godliness for by looking to God and the home He has prepared for us, we can endure many trials throughout life.
How does one develop godliness? It begins with keeping God in our daily lives. When we rise for the day, we should begin with prayer. When we bed down for the night, we should pray to the Father. Throughout the day, we should pray to Him. His word must speak to us during the day. We can read a passage and meditate on it throughout the day. We should also look for ways to show Christ living in us to others. Our speech, manner, and honesty will either demonstrate godliness or betray it.
When we make decisions, we should decide in a way that pleases God. Our business, social, and personal life should reflect one who is trying to be like Jesus. Just as the moon does not generate light but reflects the light from the sun, so should the Christian look to God for guidance and “let his light shine before men.” When Moses was in the presence of God at Mt. Sinai, his face shone. The people were frightened and asked Moses to wear a veil when he spoke to them. Though our face will not shine like Moses, it ought to be evident to all people that we have an intimate relationship with God. Like the apostles, people should know that we have been with Jesus, Acts 4:13.
A life directed towards God will progress towards Him. When we take our eyes away from God, it is easy to get distracted with the allurements of the world. As the Hebrew writer said, we can drift away from that salvation. When our focus is heavenward, our earthly ties become weaker. It is this attitude that characterized many men and women of faith who, leaving their homelands on earth, confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims traveling to their heavenly city to a God who is not ashamed of them (Hebrews 11:13-16). Let us fix our eyes on God and journey to that heavenly city, following the way paved by His Son.