“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness… For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness (virtue), and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, GODLINESS…” 2 Peter 1:3, 5-6
According to a May 2009 MSNBC report, “Today’s Tykes: Secure Kids or Rudest in History?”, we seem to have produced a generation of “rude” children lacking compassion for others. I don’t think things have improved in the 10+ years since that article was written. What’s more shocking is the number of adults, especially parents, who are themselves rude and who reinforce rude, selfish behavior in their children.
The word used by Peter, that is translated godliness in this passage, expresses a completely opposite attitude towards others. The Greek word, eusebeia, is very difficult to translate, so words like godliness, piety or reverence cannot adequately convey its rich meaning. ‘Eusebeia’ describes the two sides of a coin representing our relationship both to God and man.
It’s meaning is more descriptive of a kind of correct and reverent worship of God, out of which we correctly and respectfully serve and relate to others. In other words, authentic faith expresses itself in authentic, all-of-life-worship which manifests itself in a right relationship to both God and man. It is practical piety in which the aroma of Christ is obvious.
Faith rightly rooted in the truth about who God is, who we are as beings created in His image, and how deeply we are loved completely uproots all self-centeredness, selfishness and rudeness, and replaces it with kindness, gentleness, love and compassion. True godliness is obvious in the life so fully possessed by God that His character is revealed in our relationships with others. It is not passive, but active and proactive.
A Grandparent’s Impact
Grandparents, when you see your grandchildren acting towards others with rudeness or meanness, how do you respond? Children do need to know that such behavior is unacceptable, and if we look the other way when rude behavior is displayed, we are not helping them grow. That is not godliness.
While godly correction is best achieved in partnership with the parents, grandparents also have a responsibility to teach and correct behavior if it’s not being taught. Just remember, you are not their parents, so make sure you do not overstep your bounds. Learn to ask questions that help them understand the impact of their actions. Something as simple as, “How would you feel if the shoe was on the other foot—you were the one receiving the comments you are making to another? Is that how you like to be treated?”
Our impact will likely involve as much modeling godliness as in telling them how to behave. If they see an authentic and loving ‘piety’ in us, perhaps they will be more open to hear why we choose to live that way.
True godliness does not turn men out of the world but enables them to live better in it and excites their endeavors to mend it. – Wm. Penn