If we think of a Godly life as one that manifests the character of God, we can see that the fruit of the Spirit, listed for us by Paul in Galatians 5 : 22 encapsulate the ‘God-like-ness’ our new life in Christ should portray. We will see love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control all on display. What an incredible list, and how seemingly unattainable it can sometimes feel.
The picture Paul paints of the opposite, ‘ungodliness,’ is not pretty. In Galatians Chapter 5 vs 19 he depicts the ‘acts of the sinful nature’ (flesh in the older translations). This list does not just include idolatry, witchcraft and sexual sin but also hatred, jealousy, envy, selfish ambition, dissensions, and anger. Things to which we can perhaps relate.
It’s a very similar picture to the behavior described by Paul in Romans Chapter 1 in verses 28-31. Paul traces the spiritual and moral decent of mankind to becoming people who are gossips, slanderers of God and who invent ways of doing evil, who are senseless, heartless and ruthless, becoming futile in their thinking with their hearts darkened.
He points out that the decline started with a failure to give thanks. ‘They neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him’ verse 21. If the lack of thanksgiving is the start of the decline into ungodliness, may be here there is a clue for those of us who want to live Godly lives. For those of us who may not have gone down the route described in Romans 1, but who struggle, at some point, during most days to keep our lives manifesting the fruit of the Spirit as described in Galatians 5:22.
For example there are multiple ways in which we can be unkind or impatient during the day, and since kindness and patience are fruits of the spirit and attributes of our God, how can we best help ourselves to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to produce that good fruit in our lives? How do we live a ‘Godly’ life?
I believe the key to staying in a flow of life where we are manifesting those fruit, and displaying Godliness is to stay in a thankful mindset. If refusing to honour God and thank Him started the downward spiral described in Romans 1, then the opposite must be true. If we travel through the day in a spirit of gratitude, we will find that our thankfulness releases the Holy Spirit from our innermost being and the fruit can grow.
If we honour God with our thanksgiving in a situation we will counteract the temptation to think ungodly thoughts (i.e. getting irritated) progressing to ungodly decisions (this person is a waste of space) and then actions (shouting or being rude to them). For example someone annoys you, if you start thanking God for them or for His love for you, that angry thought is more likely to die than become an angry decision, leading to an angry action or words.
As we go through a day with our hearts filled with gratitude we will find ourselves less prone to judge, to criticise, to be unkind or impatient and we will be less likely to lack self control when we need it. It makes perfect sense if we see that godliness is really just a life of letting the Holy Spirit flow freely through us, producing His fruit in our attitudes, thoughts and actions.
In addition if we should hit a challenge along the way and find ourselves tempted to react badly, choosing to give thanks is very often the thing that will enable us to overcome and live more like Jesus.