What signs do I look for, in my heart and in my life, that indicate that I have a true, growing, genuine faith?
I’m ashamed to say that there’s more than a little bit of hypocrisy in me. Sometimes, my inner Pharisee is silent. Sometimes, he stands up and shouts. Most of the time, I’m afraid, he gets his work done quietly but effectively.
Is there a little bit of Pharisee in you?
Whether or not we’re acting as Pharisees, religious hypocrites, depends largely upon how we think about God, how we view his goodness, what we believe constitutes godliness, and how we think of ourselves in light of all of that. It depends upon the level of pride or humility in our hearts.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of measuring your spirituality, your religious health, in light of the following.
Here are 6 signs of godliness to re-examine
1. You have a knack for knowing what positions people for God’s favor.
You’ve got it figured out. Not only do you understand God, you have become quite accomplished at discerning—quietly, of course—those who get it and those who don’t.
2. You’re passionate about converting people to your beliefs.
You to work hard to win others to your line of thinking. You can recite all of the proof texts, lead someone down the Romans Road, recite the Four Spiritual Laws, and draw the bridge illustration in your sleep. Your logic is flawless and your proofs are convincing.
3. You know how to turn a phrase so you sound more holy.
You’ve got the Christian lingo down. Sometimes, you throw a touch of King James into a prayer. And, you’ve mastered how to express what you really want to say in an indirect, yet alarmingly spiritual manner.
4. You are careful to tithe even the tiniest bit of income.
God asked for 10 percent and that’s what you give him without fail. You pride yourself that you tithe on your gross—not just net—earnings and you’re confident that God will bless you as a result.
5. You never fail to project the right image.
With God in your life, you’ve got it together. And, you wear your clean, crisp image as a badge of honor. You always have a smile and God-bless-you greeting for the people you meet.
6. You are committed to your traditions and religious heritage.
You come from a long line of religious people. And, more than a little of your sense of spirituality comes from the traditions in your life and in your church. You love to talk about the good old days and about preserving that heritage.
Any of this sound familiar? If so, that might be because there’s an entire chapter in the book of Matthew dedicated to warnings Jesus gave to hypocritical religious leaders who thought they had it all figured out.
Does it make you squirm to read Jesus’ warnings? They make me uncomfortable. I don’t want to be a Pharisee. And, I’m sure you don’t either. So, how do we re-examine these signs of godliness?
6 signs of godliness re-examined
1. You’ve given up judgment and condemnation.
God’s the only one who can judge. And, you can trust him to judge fairly. You’ve given up serving as a bouncer outside the club of God’s grace and you’ve begun serving on the welcome team.
2. You’re passionate about introducing people to Jesus.
While you do your best to speak up for the truth as you know it, you’re deeply committed to loving people well and to doing all you can to help them get to know Jesus himself.
3. You speak the truth in love.
You’ve given up attempts to manipulate others with your words. Your yes means yes and your no means no.
4. You give Jesus your self and you long for him in return.
You’re less concerned about the exact amount you’re giving than you are about obeying God’s voice when he prompts you. You’re not giving to secure God’s blessing but because you get more of Jesus by following his example of generosity.
5. You don’t care how you look as long as people see Jesus.
You may be a mess. And, that’s OK as long as Jesus shines through the cracks.
6. You are more desperate to see God’s glory today and tomorrow than to relive the good old days.
You cherish your memories and traditions but they’re not a snare to you. You’re praying and working to see a movement of God in the here-and-now and excited about his glory being revealed in the future.
Jesus always saved his harshest words for the proud, the religious people who were certain of their own godliness. But, the humble, the desperate, the impoverished, the meek, and the true seekers, they were the ones who received his favor. They were the ones who were truly godly. They were the ones who were considered faithful. They were the ones who were blessed.
And they still are.
Let’s re-examine how we measure godliness and, instead, strive to lean on the godliness that Jesus gives to us on the basis of his own perfection.
What about you?
What signs of godliness do you need to re-examine?