Thomas Watson writes that a godly person will labor to be an instrument of making others godly. These are powerful words that command a deep conviction. If actions are a good indicator of attitude, my actions indicate a lack of priority in this area, as I am sure if the case with many us. Watson writes specifically that a godly person “is not content to go to heaven alone.” How deeply we should desire that these words be true in our lives. Yearning for the conviction of godliness to be true in the lives of others, we can do nothing less than respond to God’s call upon our lives to be instruments in the lives of others.
While Scripture defines varying degrees of roles and responsibilities within the body of Christ, there is one thing that is certain: all are to be involved in discipling others (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Acts 2:42). How weighty is the task that is laid before us! Of greater fortitude though is how astonishing that task is. The Lord has given the grace of fellowship for the purpose of building his saints towards sanctification and glorification.
Relationships thus, are more than a personal benefit but yield a profound bounty for the glory of God. Consider the points found in The Godly Man’s Picture noting that a godly person is good in his or her relations. Therefore, a godly person:
- Is good as a magistrate.
- Is good as a minister.
- Is good as a spouse.
- Is good as a parent.
- Is good as a master.
- Is good in relation of a child.
- Is good as a servant. (1).
It stands to reason then, that if a godly person is good in his or her relationships, that person will also endeavor to be an instrument in making others godly. The two, after all, are motivated by a love for God and a love for others and therefore cannot be separated.
Labors of Passiveness
One of the greatest issues is that we have embraced labors of passiveness. This follows from the standard diagnosis that we define productivity as busyness. If a person is outwardly busy, they are accomplishing something. Despite much evidence, discussion, and conviction to the contrary, it seems incredibly complicated for people to break free from this mindset. Personally, I am convinced that our reliance upon technology (computers, tablets, phones, televisions, etc.) has had a profound influence on creating people who acquiesce to passivity with little motivation or desire to put more effort forward. This is true not just in our work, but also in our relationships as well, where a click of a button in Facebook is supposed to indicate a lasting friendship.
Labors of Passion
However, relationships require effort. This is more explicit when it comes to ministry in relationships. When we carry the burdens of others (Galatians 6:2) we should expect that the burden is heavy and requires an investment of time and energy. Therefore, relationships cannot be built upon labors of passiveness, but on labors of passion. First, a genuine relationship is motivated by and sustained by a passion for God. When we love God, we look upon others in a similar manner desiring to see them reconciled to God. Such a passion for God stirs a secondary passion: a passion for people. Our love for him brings forth a love for others that ignites a desire to see them live lives worthy of the calling with which they have been called (Ephesians 4:1-3; Philippians 1:27-28; Colossians 1:10).
Therefore, let us contend for the faith by laboring for the godliness of others. May we be submissive to God’s use of our lives as instruments in bringing about godliness in the lives of others through example, teaching, building up, and carrying the burdens of others. Certainly, this is not the result of our work in their lives, but a result of God’s work in which we can rejoice together at the mighty works the Lord has undertaken in and through his body of believers.
(1) These points come from Thomas Watson’s writing, The Godly Man’s Picture. However, I have generalized them so that they are not gender specific (i.e. instead of husband, I changed it to spouse so that both husbands and wives are included here).
Each week Tim Challies has been reading through a portion of The Godly Man’s Picture by Thomas Watson and then writing a response article based on those readings. I have been following along, sharing my own thoughts as well. You can read Tim Challies’ thoughts at challies.com. This week concludes sections 20-24 and you can read my previous posts by clicking the following links:
- What’s Love Got to Do With It: Guarding Against Sin
- The Many Uses of Patience
- 7 Virtues of the Holy Spirit
- Christ: A Treasure Above All
- A Christless Christianity
- The Prayerlessness of the Guilty
Photo “My God, So Pure and Undefiled” courtesy of user Coram Deo and Flickr.