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Godliness: Sincere, Heavenly Minded, Zealous, Patient

Continuing with Thomas Watson on characteristics of the godly person from “The Godly Man’s Picture”, this will be the last newsletter on this subject for a while. There are more to come.

A godly person is characterised by sincerity. In contrast to the hypocrite, this person is plain hearted. He is what he seems to be. As the mouth speaks from the heart (Luke 6:45) his speech is consistent with a heart that’s regenerate. He isn’t one to flatter or mislead by his words so as to make a pretense for his heart. This sincerity is further expressed in that he seeks to approve himself to God in everything. The hypocrite seeks first the praise of men. The sincere person lays open his sins. The hypocrite veils and smothers his sin. Let us strive to be sincere in our faith.

A godly person is also a heavenly person. Heaven is in him before he is in heaven and every day is Ascension Day with a believer. This heavenly citizenship (Phil. 3:20) is evident in the daily choices he makes, choosing Christ and grace before the most illustrious things under the sun. It is evident in his affections which are set on things above (Col.3.2) as his desires have got wings and have fled to heaven. A godly person is heavenly in what he communicates through word and deed. He is also heavenly in his expectations. Having a blessed hope he is above the desire of life or the fear of death. He doesn’t have high expectations for this world.

Zealousness is a characteristic of the godly. This zeal is a mixed affection. It carries forth our love to God and our anger against sin. It is not, however, a blind zeal, but rather one that is informed by the knowledge of God (Rom. 10:2). A false zeal is fired with passion, but without knowledge it lacks direction. It is like a ship without a rudder. True zeal is never out of breath. It is active as a result of the fervency of spirit it produces (Rom. 12:11), and thus will not easily be dissuaded. It will charge through an army of dangers, it will march in the face of death.

Finally, a godly man is a patient man. He is patient in waiting. If a godly man does not obtain his desire immediately, he will wait till the mercy is ripe. The Lord’s timing is his desire. Consider, even, that many of our blessings that we have in Christ, indeed the greatest expression of those blessings, are still to come when He returns. A patient man will be satisfied to wait for the good to come. In the meantime, he will show patience in bearing trials. This isn’t to put on a stoical apathy to hardship or to patiently endure them because there is no other choice. Rather it is a cheerful submission of our will to God. Patience adorns suffering. By faith, we patiently wait and we patiently endure because we have a living hope. Faith argues the soul into patience.