[Papercut Press Publishing] 1998-06-17 - What is Piety?

" … learn to practice piety …" 1 Timothy 5:4

Another Wednesday topic suggested by a devotional family member. You can still submit topics, verses, or whatever to me. No promises about getting to them all however.

"Piety: (Lat. pietas, 'duty to God') Devotion and commitment to God expressed in the Christian life through a variety of actions." (Donald K. McKim, Dictionary of Theological Terms, Westminster/John Knox Press, © 1996, ISBN# 0664220894) Dictionary definitions are not always helpful, but in this case I think it hits the nail right on the head. That's about all I will say in defining piety. For the rest of today I would like to look at Scripture and seek to find out how to grow in piety.

  1. Scripture. (2 Timothy 3:14-17) Sometimes it is easy to forget about verses that here all the time. But these often quoted verse still contain an important truth, even if we know them by heart. A strong element of piety is applying what we have learned. We study the Scriptures and then when better equipped and having had our sword sharpened, we do something. Piety, as the above given definition says is, expressed. The Scriptures guide us in how we express ourselves, but having been grounded in the word, we then act accordingly. (1 Timothy 6:11-12)

  2. Prayer. (James 5:16-18) The example is given of Elijah who through his prayers held back the rain for 42 months, then prayed and the skies opened up. However, what is essential to see is earlier in verse 16, it is the prayer of a righteous man that accomplishes things. It is the prayer of one who knows his duty to God and is, for our purposes, pious. The prayer of that person who is right with God is what God calls here, effective prayer. " … the Lord hears the prayer of the righteous." (Proverbs 15:29)

  3. Hope for the Life to Come. (Titus 2:11-14) These verses are interesting because they link the pious aspects of good works, living sensibly, forsaking ungodliness, and doing zealous good works with having hope in the resurrection of Christ. Piety has an end, and it is in Christ and His final appearing. So one was to grow in these good, pious works is to strengthen our hope for our future life with Christ in heaven.

I personally have always defined piety as similar to godliness. I am not sure really how to adequately define either one. However, I do know this … I am drawn to it when I see it.

"Piety is the root of charity." John Calvin

Soli Deo Gloria,