I grew up around math aficionados – a father and brother who were engineers, a sister who was trained as an accountant (also married to a scientist), and my late wife – who was a nurse and was very good with numbers. I was the misfit. I could add, multiply, divide and subtract easily, but when it came to equations – it was hopeless. I was so bad that, when my kids hit middle and high school, they begged me not to help them with their math homework!
It might be said that life is full of equations. Not just the algebra, geometry, and calculus that help us understand, and interact with, the physical world – but also the complicated equations we need to work on in the more intangible parts of our lives. Relationships, family, politics, business, work, entertainment – and a multitude of other areas – all have “equations” that present themselves to us on a daily basis. They are multi-faceted and require careful steps. Rarely are they simple, and it is very easy to get distracted.
How we try to solve these equations reveals who we are. Are we simple, or cunning? Honest or dishonest? Most importantly – are we godly or ungodly?
What does it mean to be godly? I think the word has been sometimes defined as “pious.” For a clearer definition, let’s look at the opposite – how the Bible defines “ungodly” (rasa – Hebrew and translated as “ungodly” eight times in the Old Testament.)
The wicked [rasa – Hebrew], through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God:
God is not in all his thoughts [plans].
Psalm 10:4 (KJV) – brackets mine
An ungodly person may look like he respects God while, at the same time, not include Him in making his plans (i.e. solving his “equations” – 2 Timothy 3:5). He may confess there is a God, but behaves like He does not exist. He does not factor in God’s Word as he lives his daily life.
A godly man, on the other hand is the opposite. Whatever “equation” of life he faces, God is factored in. Actually He is more than just factored in – His way, His Word, and His providence define the equations of a godly person’s life. In Psalm 119 :133 – A godly man invites God to establish his steps in His Word. You could even say that all of Psalm 119 – with its emphasis on God’s Word, statutes, law, commandments, and ways – describes a godly person’s attitude to all of the daily “equations” of life. A godly man or woman will not be perfect – but when they fail God – they will feel it quickly and deeply. Getting things right with God and others – and correcting that “equation” – will become a top priority (2 Corinthians 7:8-12.)
This is why Psalm 1 tells us not to follow the counsel of the ungodly (rasa) but instead delight ourselves in God’s law, and meditate on it day and night. If we do, we will be like a tree that has been transplanted to a nourishing spot by a river (Psalm 1:1-3). If we don’t, we become like the chaff – driven away with the wind – good for nothing but the fire.
Living godly in an ungodly world sounds daunting, but the grace of God through Christ is more than able to help us. If we allow Him to, His grace trains us to be godly – just like a parent trains their child.
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
1 Thessalonians 2:8-12 (KJV)
Also, the Bible tells us that, through our relationship with the resurrected Christ, God has given to us everything that we need to live our life by God’s “equations:”
Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 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: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
1 Peter 1:2 – 4 (KJV)
By His divine power God has given us “[absolutely] everything necessary for [a dynamic spiritual] life and godliness” and “His precious and magnificent promises [of inexpressible value]” (AMP). It is His divine power that makes it possible for us to share in His divine nature – the way He feels and acts. This power working in us, through His word, helps us work out those equations in our fallen natures until we take on – more and more – His image in every area of our lives. This is what godliness is all about.
More Scriptures on godliness to explore: Psalm 4:2,3; 32:5,6; 2 Corinthians 1:12-14; 7:8-12; 1 Timothy 2:1-4; 2:8-11; 3:16; 4: 6-11; 6:1-4; 6:6 – 11; 2 Timothy 3: 1-5; 10-12; Titus 1:1-4; 2 Peter 1:2-9; 2 Peter 3:10-13