When Paul left Timothy as a pastor in the Ephesian church, the young man was forced to deal with some hard issues that had cropped up among the people of God. And even though Paul was planning on visiting soon, his heart was so heavy for the people of this church that he wrote everything down and sent it to Timothy as a letter.
A part of Paul’s concern was how these Christians were conducting themselves as the church. Christian character and conduct mattered to Paul. But have you ever wondered why it is so important? Is it really that big of a deal to follow a bunch of rules?
Whether we follow Jesus or the world, we are held to rules and a standard of living. Murder, stealing, lying, cheating, and abuse of various kinds are universally unacceptable. But for the world they are unacceptable because they cause chaos, disrupting the peaceful life that people long for. Much of the world’s reasoning is driven by self-love instead of God-love.
1 Timothy 6:6-16 New King James Version (NKJV)
6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
The Good Confession
11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, 15 which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.
As Christians we have a code of conduct that we are called to – not because of what we can get out of it – but because of who God is, and who we are as His people.
When God commands us to not steal but share generously, this is because He is a God of generosity who never takes what isn’t His. When God calls us to love sacrificially or forgive completely, it is because this is what He does.
What God does stems from His very nature. And when God calls us to holy living, it is not only because He is holy, but because we are now His holy people, cleansed and declared to be righteous in God’s sight through the work of His Son, Jesus.
Once we were people who were driven by self. Now we have been saved to be a people driven by love for God and others. The call to right living according to God’s standards is a call to godliness. Godliness is like God-like-ness. We are called to reflect the God who saved us, provides for us, hears us, loves us, and changes us.
Ultimately, true godliness is seen in Jesus. He is the “mystery of godliness” because once He had been hidden, but now He took on flesh and is godliness personified, and His godliness is credited to us. This is what gives us good standing before our God. And this standing gives us the freedom to obey our Lord.
As Christians and as the Church we are to conduct ourselves in a manner that shows our changed heart, our gratitude for our salvation, and our love for the One who died for us.