For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection… – 2 Peter 1:5-7
My first encounter with church politics took the shine off the rose for my view of the church and her leaders. Many years later, when first elected President of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, Matthew Harrison spoke to the delegates to the convention and said, “You have kept your perfect record of electing in every case a sinner to serve as your president.” I will take that as a statement of humility.
Sadly however, some assert their “sinnerliness” as an excuse to act badly – with impunity. I’ve heard men talk in course language, plot against their opponents with malice and disrespect to an all-to-great degree. There are also outwardly pious chancel prancers who strut around in a show of piety for all the world to see but with no heart for God. And there are also the overly-humble servants falling all over themselves to try to look helpful as more of a show to be seen by others than an act of service actually to help others.
Thankfully, too, there are godly men and women in the church who serve in love, faithfulness, grace, and humility. These godly men and women serve with a heart for God’s mission. They recognize the grace they have received and model it toward others. In fact the whole point of godliness would certainly be to reflect the goodness, kindness, love, and grace displayed in the life of Jesus. He had harsh words for the false-godly calling them “whitewashed tombs” (Matthew 23:27-28). But to repentant sinners he spoke grace, truth, mercy, and life, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more” (John 8:11).
We who seek to adorn our faith with godliness will sometimes get it wrong – no doubt. But a heart that has been touched by the grace of God in Jesus will seek to exercise the kind of godliness that reflects God’s true nature while never presuming to stand in his place. The words of Micah 6:8 come to mind, “what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”