The Substance of Godliness

Pleasing God. When I think about pleasing God, the first thing I think of is missions. A life that is pleasing to Him is one that is on missions for Him. This is COMPLETELY true, but what if I told you that paying your bills on time pleases God? What about being able to communicate healthily? In 1 Thessalonians, it talks about what it means to please God. Surprisingly there is nothing about speaking on a pulpit or going on a mission trip. This blog is to expose what it might look like to get your affairs in order and please God with the foundational wisdom of living daily through the mundane.

Background

Let me give you some context:

A year after I got saved my freshman year of high school, I started dating another church member. We really strived to meet what we thought were God’s expectations, but there was a lack of the revelation of His will in the secret place. To the public, we looked like we were serving God wholeheartedly, but all the while, God knew we were unhealthily emotionally and physically dependent on one another. We lacked deep accountability and there were many red flags in the relationship.

Fast forward to college, when I said yes to God and went to a 6-week mission trip to Australia with my campus ministry I was a part of in South Carolina. Many people supported me on this trip, and I was even asked to join full time as Campus Crusade Staff  that following year as a junior.

However, no one suspected that I was in major credit card debt because I would pay for others’ meals constantly. I was overpaying for an apartment because I couldn’t bear to say no to my friends. No one knew I was now battling with pornography and sleeping with my boyfriend, because my social media said otherwise. No one asked about why I was skipping classes and almost failing them while battling depression because I was discipling students with similar issues.

It wasn’t until junior year I got a wake up call about my own affairs. The cracks from my now 5-year relationship from high school were growing into chasms that separated me from not just my friends and family, but God. The red flags grew into fires, and I had to leave the community I grew up with. The financial problems I had caused from using credit cards to pay for my housing and being late on school payments forced me to move back to my parent’s place in Georgia, leaving me with no friends, no ministry, and no income.  

Many of the truths He revealed to me during that season can be broken down in 1 Thessalonians 4, where Paul instructs the Thessalonians on living that pleases God:

“Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”

Lead a Quiet Life

God did a major work in me that season. He taught me to seek Him in the secret place. He stripped me of everything that made my life loud and a performance. I had no audience to entertain or to gain affirmation from. For that season, loving God meant withholding and refraining from good things so that I could experience the better thing (Luke 10:42). It meant dealing with my finances and facing God in healthy union, not what He could give me.

Leading a quiet life can be difficult because there really is no glory in paying your bills on time or applying for your financial aid in a timely manner, but this is true wisdom that yields such sweet fruit and intimacy with the Lord. Through the quiet life I gained not only wisdom, but the joy having a unhindered confidence of being in His will.

Work With Your Hands… Not Dependent on Anybody

You might be looking at my life and wondering…how did you let it get this bad? I don’t think anyone intends to be in a codependent relationship, but it starts with little things. It’s a little over sharing with the opposite gender, or it’s a small yes to doing a favor for someone that turns into a vicious cycle. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t help others, but we need to be mindful about which actions are enabling a negative behavior or burdening us in an unhealthy way.

For me, it was a codependent relationship. I also built unhealthy friendships by paying for things that were out of my means. In the Christian world, it can be easy to think that serving God means to give until it hurts or stay in a relationship and forgive constantly. But we need to be attentive to the still voice that tells us when obeying Him might mean withholding or waiting.

Your Daily Life

Lastly, Paul tells us that we are to win people over by our DAILY LIFE. Not just a summer on missions, not just a one time prayer session…but daily. How does someone gain respect from outsiders, and more specifically non-believers? It is the mundane task of getting your affairs in order daily. It’s true that our weaknesses give light to His strength, but there is a clear difference between weakness and sin. Are you in accountability and healthy community? Do you get to work on time? Are you clear of unnecessary financial debt? Do you live peaceably with both believers and non-believers?

Conclusion

In Luke it states,  “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.” Getting your affairs in order is the foundation we need to serve God wholly. Don’t fall into the trap of the appearance of godliness when there is no substance to back it up. Let us strive to be people who serve the Lord with our entire being—from the grandest things to even the smallest of tasks.