Behind the Facebook Status

A lesson God is teaching me...

Godliness is more than a pithy Facebook status.
Godliness is more than a public persona.
Godliness is more than tweeting a Bible verse, a song lyric, or a quote from a popular book or Puritan.
Godliness is more than the image people have of you.
Godliness is more than what you say or even what you do.

You see a pithy Facebook status may get you the ever-popular thumbs up from a select group of your "friends" but it may not communicate the true status of your heart.  Your public persona does not often reveal the secret sins of your private life. Tweeting a Bible verse, song lyric, or quote may win me favor with others but it may not portray my own lack of faith and failure to apply that particular truth.  The image people have of you does not always expose the rest of the story. What you say and do may contradict what you claim or promote.

I have been guilty of talking godliness while living idolatry. I have been guilty of seeking human approval over safeguarding my heart. I have been guilty of hiding my secret sin in order to protect my public image. I have been guilty of concealing sin in order to obtain the affirmation of others.

The truth is only God knows our heart. Only God is the true Judge of godliness. Only God sees into our soul. Humans can only judge our godliness (or lack thereof) based on our words and actions - of which both are easy to manipulate. It is easy to say and do things to make people believe you are someone you are not. Humans are easy to fool. God - not so much.  God looks deeper than words and actions. God examines our hearts.

The idea of godliness in the New Testament denotes two primary ideas: a) a God-ward attitude of priority, reverence, and faith that b) manifests itself in doing what pleases God (actions).  Thus godliness always begins with one's proper attitude toward God that naturally results in obedient activity for God.  So what might appear on the outside as godly actions might actually be selfish (and subsequently sinful) actions of they are performed without the proper attitude.

Here's where it gets tough ...

True godliness cannot be discerned through a Facebook status, tweet, quote, action, sermon, or any other form of outward performance.  Don't get me wrong - these activities MIGHT reveal a godly heart but not necessarily. Only God knows our hearts - our desperately wicked hearts.

We love human approval. We seek it. We seek it intentionally at times. We seek it unknowingly at times. We seek it in what we say, what we do, where we go, what we post, what we portray. We seek it so that we might feel better about ourselves or avoid blame or protect our image. Sadly, we often seek it at the expense of our own relationship with God.

I have lived a very ungodly life at times while talking the opposite. I have lived for the approval of humans at the expense of my relationship with Jesus. I've lived the lie and eventually it caught up to me.

In his booklet The Christian Graces, James Tolle asserts, "The graces of virtue, knowledge, and self-control, as well as of patience, must be hallowed and inspired by godliness, so that the thought of God is brought into them all, so that they begin and end with God." Godliness begins in our heart - pursuing and finding our identity in what Jesus has done and not in what we do or do not do.

In other words, godliness is the motivating factor that drives us to know God, know who we are in Him, and in return be more like Him. As I reflect on this truth, I am not sure how it all plays out in every day life. But what I do know is that there are times when God strips away everything by which you have been defined so that He might recapture your heart in a way that forces you to repent of your own sin and seek to rest solely in who He is and not upon who you are. It is a tough, ongoing, and much-needed lesson.

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