Our fast-lane living these days does not lend itself to the traits we have traditionally attached to godliness. Remember the old hymn we sang in church years ago? "Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord; abide in Him always and feed on His Word.... Take time to be holy, the world rushes on."
We read those words, believe them, and would even defend them, but we sigh as we confess that more often than not we are strangers to them. The idea of taking the kind of time "to be holy" that our grandparents once did is rather dated.
Does this mean, then, that we cannot be holy? Does an urban lifestyle force us to forfeit godliness? Must we return to the "little house on the prairie" in order to be godly?
Obviously, the answer is no. If godliness were linked to a certain culture or a horse-and-buggy era, then most of us would be out of luck! As much as we might enjoy a slower and less pressured lifestyle, God has not called everyone to such a role or place.
Which brings us to a bottom-line question I seldom hear addressed these days: What exactly does it mean to be holy...to be godly?
Godliness cannot be confused with how a person looks (hard as it is for us to get beyond that) or what a person drives or owns. As tough as it is for us to be free of envy and critical thoughts, it is imperative that we remind ourselves that "God looks on the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7); therefore, whatever we may say godliness is, it is not skin deep.
Godliness is something below the surface of a life, deep down in the realm of attitude...an attitude toward God Himself.
The longer I think about this, the more I believe that a person who is godly is one whose heart is sensitive toward God, one who takes God seriously. This evidences itself in one very obvious mannerism: The godly individual hungers and thirsts after God. In the words of the psalmist, the godly person has a soul that "pants" for the living God (Psalm 42:1-2). What matters is the individual's inner craving to know God, listen to Him, and walk humbly with Him.
Godly people possess an attitude of willing submission to God's will and ways. Whatever He says, goes. And whatever it takes to carry it out is the very thing the godly desire to do.
The godly soul "pants" and "thirsts" for God.
The godly take God seriously.
Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.