We’ve reached the end of our first series in our Year of Discipleship. We’ve looked at four foundational concepts necessary for all disciples to understand: Grace, Commitment, Humility, and now, Piety. And it was very fitting that Piety would be our last topic in this series, because it actually serves as the culmination of the other topics.
The dictionary defines piety as a quality of being religious or reverent. And we are pious when we exhibit holiness and strive to be Christ-like. Basically speaking, piety is living out what you believe. It’s the culmination of God’s work of grace, and your commitment to Him, and it’s your humility in action! Piety is about making your faith real and evident in your life and through all your actions.
Becoming a Christian means that we subscribe to a set of beliefs…there are things we say that we believe now, truths as they’re communicated through the Bible (hopefully they’re truths from the Bible!). And these beliefs are important. They’re what separate Christians from, say, Muslims, Hindus, or Atheists. But we’re called to more than just believing. A life of piety to which we are all called is more than just agreeing with a set of beliefs- it’s actually living them out!
Piety is making the choice to live according to what you believe. See, the life of a disciple is a life of piety, of living out what you believe. It means what you do and what you say reflects what you believe. It means you worship God on more than just Sundays, it means that you do “Christian” things for more than just the show. It’s about really being holy and striving to become more like Christ- in our actions, thoughts, words. It’s about being more motivated by God’s love for us than our love for ourselves. It means doing what we do because we love God, not for the applause or adoration we may receive.
The truth is, if you don’t live out what you claim to believe, you are going to live out what you actually believe. Read that again. What do I mean by that? Take this example: if you claim to believe that eating meat is murder, that you should only eat plants…but then you secretly enjoy a good medium rare angus beef burger with thick applewood bacon…then you are living out what you actually believe, not what you claim to believe. If you claim to believe that God is the Lord of your life, and that we should strive to become more Christ-like…but you harbor anger and hatred for another, or you steal, or you sleep around, or lie, or cheat…then you are living out what you actually believe, not what you claim to…and it is not the truths of the Bible!
This is a hard one. We all can see, if we’re honest with ourselves, those places where we live not how we claim to believe. And I get it…a life of piety is not easy, not in the slightest. There are so many other things that pull on us, that prod and tempt us to live according to our own desire. It’s tough. But you see, we’re called to more than that, we’re called to more than simply reacting to life. We are called to be just like Christ, in everything. In the way we treat people, in the decisions we make, in the things we think, say, and do.
My challenge this week- actually the challenge God gives each of us- is to determine what it is we really believe. Ask yourself what your lifestyle says about what you believe. If it doesn’t match up with the life God calls us to through Scripture, then you and God have got some work to do. Give it to Him. Trust that if you really want to live a Christ-like life, if you really commit yourself to God completely, that He will help you get there. A life of true piety should be the goal of each and every one of us- of me, and of you!
Sermon Notes for “Foundation: Piety” from Feb 2, 2014
A quality of being religious or reverent
When we exhibit holiness and strive to be Christ-like
Living what you believe
Piety is the culmination of:
God’s work of grace
Your commitment to God
Your humility in action
Piety is often seen negatively
Seen as arrogant or hypocritical
Seen as being used to cover sin, to make on look better, holier, more religious than they are
This is what Jesus was preaching against in our passage from Matthew 6:1-21
Speaking about the Pharisees and other religious leaders who He called “hypocrites”:
They did their good deeds publicly to be admired by others
Calling attention to themselves and their good deeds
They loved to pray publicly on street corners where everyone would see them
Babbling on and on, repeating the same words thinking they would come true
When fasting, they tried to look miserable and disheveled so people would admire them
This isn’t piety
Jesus said, in 6:2b that the only reward we will get for this is that admiration and recognition
True piety comes out of a deep love for God, and recognizing God’s deep love for us
It doesn’t have anything to do with making myself look good
It’s about doing what God wants us to do
It’s about living out our faith, our beliefs
A question to ponder:
What should a life of piety look like?
What would it look like for you to live a pious life?
Piety isn’t about just going through the motions of religion, but actually living out faith
Do you want to come to the end of your life, when you stand before God, and hear that you have lived only for your glory, and not for God’s?
Do you want to hear God say to you that you have already received your reward?
Cori Cypret is the pastor of The United Methodist Church of Coopersville.