First of all, let me get this out of the way and answer my own question that we are godly only because of Christ’s righteousness imputed unto us as hopeless sinners. Just in case anyone thought I was about to get into a discussion of “works salvation.” That issue was settled on the cross and needs no further discussion from me.
But the further discussion concerns what a godly life in Christ looks like to others from the outside. A friend posed this question on her Facebook page yesterday. She narrowed it down to asking how godliness might look in a woman (not excluding men, but just wanting to know how she should aim her efforts as a woman).
There were many thoughtful answers and . . . as thoughtful answers will do, they made me think overnight.
Some of the answers could be easily categorized into active vs. passive categories. Things godly women do vs. things godly women do not do.
In particular, there were some general answers that can be both active and passive (wisdom, humility, handling disappointment).
There were answers that were primarily passive (knowing when to remain silent, not judging others–that second one was mine but I later changed my vote. And, in my favor, I did mention exercising empathy in place of judgment).
The qualities that must, by nature, be active were love for others (love for self and taking care of self was mentioned with this one) and compassion (my favorite, and the one to which I eventually changed my vote).
Thinking this through, I became convicted that we, too often, in our eagerness to cultivate godly traits, scare ourselves away from many of the active traits because they run the risk of misfiring and embarrassing us publicly. When we act or speak, we open a thousand possibilities for what we could do or what we could say. And, if we are of the mindset that only one action or one set of words would perfectly fit the framework in which we find ourselves, we can see that the odds of our finding that one action or that one phrase out of thousands are pretty slim.
The odds, of course, increase when we are filled with the Holy Spirit but how many women often find themselves at places in their lives where they say, “I am totally filled with the Holy Spirit at this moment!”??? Even if that were the case, women (and men) are full of such self-doubt (and healthy humility) that we don’t often speak of ourselves that way.
So . . . we enter into that area that is so familiar to so many of us. The area of doing or saying nothing lest we do or say the wrong thing (or lest a person/persons whose opinion we highly value might think we did or said the wrong thing). We immobilize ourselves, by fear of embarrassment and by fear of man, into doing nothing.
The Bible clearly says that the fear of man brings a snare. Even if we are in the situation of trying to maintain a flawless reputation for godliness with our best friend/friends.
I am going to suggest that, often, an action or set of words empowered by the Holy Spirit may come out in many different ways and still have exactly the result toward which God is leading!
If I sit with a suffering fellow saint and speak words to her, they won’t be the same words as another believer would use, or even the same words that I would use earlier or later in my life. But they will be used of the Holy Spirit to perfectly minister in that situation. He can change the imperfect offering of my words, my time, my attention (and maybe a hot meal) to perfectly minister to another soul.
The same thing happens when I witness to an unbeliever. If I were to wait until my life were perfectly “squared away” (a subjective judgment anyway), I would never witness to anyone. Remember that in the First Century the world was turned upside down by believers who started witnessing the minute they were saved. And most of them were saved out of paganism.
The Samaritan woman led her whole town to Christ before she even had a chance to get with her common law husband and straighten their relationship out to line it up with God’s Word . . .
It is a simplistic saying, but God really does write straight with crooked pencils.
I just know that will encourage someone somewhere. Please don’t be immobilized into inactivity by the fear of saying or doing the wrong thing this new year.
Happy New Year!