In his book, The Pursuit of Godliness, Jerry Bridges defined godliness as devotion in action. Devotion he further defines as “an attitude toward God.”
Devotion is not an activity; it is an attitude toward God. This attitude is composed of three essential elements:
❖ the fear of God
❖ the love of God
❖ the desire for God
We will look at these elements in detail in chapter 2; but for now, note that all three elements focus upon God. The practice of godliness is an exercise or discipline that focuses upon God. From this Godward attitude arises the character and conduct that we usually think of as godliness. So often we try to develop Christian character and conduct without taking the time to develop God-centered devotion. We try to please God without taking the time to walk with Him and develop a relationship with Him. This is impossible to do.
Consider the exacting requirements of a godly lifestyle as expounded by the saintly William Law. Law uses the word devotion in a broader sense to mean all that is involved in godliness—actions as well as attitude:
Devotion signifies a life given, or devoted to God. He therefore is the devout [godly] man, who lives no longer to his own will, or the way and spirit of the world, but to the sole will of God, who considers God in everything, who serves God in everything, who makes all the parts of his common life, parts of piety [godliness], by doing everything in the name of God, and under such rules as are conformable to his Glory.2
Note the totality of godliness over one’s entire life in Law’s description of the godly person. Nothing is excluded. God is at the center of his thoughts. His most ordinary duties are done with an eye to God’s glory. In Paul’s words to the Corinthians, whether he eats or drinks or whatever he does, he does it all for the glory of God.
Jerry Bridges, The Practice of Godliness (Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress, 1983), 14–15.
The application is obvious: Am I doing this to the glory of God? There are two difficulties in this application. First, is the training of oneself to constantly ask this question of oneself. The second trouble: How do I do this mundane task to the glory of God? What does that even mean? John Piper applies this to one of the most simple tasks, drinking orange juice:
Orange juice was “created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe the truth.” Therefore, unbelievers cannot use orange juice for the purpose God intended—namely, as an occasion for heartfelt gratitude to God from a truth heart of faith.
But believers can, and this is how they glorify God. Their drinking orange juice is “sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.” The word of Godteaches us that the juice, and even our strength to drink it, is a free gift of God (1 Corinthians 4:7; 1 Peter 4:11). The prayer is our humble response of thanks from the heart. Believing this truth in the word, and offering thanks in prayer is one way we drink orange juice to the glory of God.
The other way is to drink lovingly. For example, don’t insist on the biggest helping. This is taught in the context of 1 Corinthians 10:33, “I try to please all men in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved” (RSV). “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Everything we do—even drinking orange juice—can be done with the intention and hope that it will be to the advantage of many that they may be saved.