We continue on in our weekly recaps of our book study on The True Woman by Susan Hunt. In case you haven’t been able to join us, check out the archives here, and consider purchasing this wonderful book for yourself! Linda McWhinney provides this guest post on reviewing lessons from chapter 7.
In this challenging and thought-provoking chapter, Susan Hunt continues to lead us on our journey to grow in godliness and Biblical womanhood. It doesn’t take long to be assured that piety is indeed a Biblical virtue. I think it is important that we understand that all virtues are Biblical. Lest anyone think they can be honest or compassionate on their own, it is vital we keep in mind that these character qualities are evidences of God’s grace, just as are piety or purity.
What is Piety?
Through the use of profound and instructional quotes the author illuminates the virtue of piety for her readers. Helping to clarify piety, Calvin says, “…piety is a pure and true zeal that loves God altogether as Father and reveres Him truly as Lord…” J.I. Packer writes that there are four areas “in mapping the path of piety.” Summarizing them: conviction, conversion and repentance; fighting against the world, the flesh and the devil; fellowship with God and other Christians; finishing well, in faith and hope.
George Prentiss says of his wife, “Elizabeth’s early Christian character was largely shaped by that of her father.” She confides in a letter to a friend, “I ought to be so saintly, so consecrated, that you could not be with me and not catch the very spirit of heaven; never get a letter from me that did not quicken your steps in the divine.”
Further on in that letter she confesses her shortcomings and then concludes, “…As far as earthly blessings go I am as near perfect happiness as a human being can be; everything is heaped on me. What I want is more of Christ, and that is what I hope you pray that I may have.”
Biblical Account of Piety
She recounts the story of Mary pouring costly perfume on Jesus’ feet and then wiping His feet with her hair. This demonstration of reverence came from the depth of Mary’s heart. She had been a sinner who now trusted in Jesus, had sat at His feet and had seen Him raise her brother from the dead.
There is no mention that Mary “skipped a beat” as the disciples expressed their indignation of her actions to Jesus. There is no indication that she feared man. There is every indication, however, that Mary had a deep reverence for Jesus. She was a woman who was acutely aware of her own sinfulness and what Jesus had delivered her from. This reverence is demonstrated to her Lord as she honored Him with this act of worship.
Isaiah’s experience described in chapter 6:1-5 further reinforces the point that we need to recognize our own sinfulness. Hunt makes this observation: “When I look at Scripture, it seems that it was not circumstances but awareness of sin that evoked brokenness. The more we know God, the more we know of our own sinfulness, and the more we reverence Him.”
This J.I. Packer quote about the Puritans gives a good summary,
“This rational, resolute, passionate piety was conscientious without becoming obsessive, law-oriented without lapsing into legalism, and expressive of Christian liberty without any shameful lurches into license…Knowing also the dishonesty and deceitfulness of fallen human hearts, they…examined themselves regularly for spiritual blind spots and lurking inward evils. They may not be called morbid or introspective on this account, however, on the contrary, they found the discipline of self-examination by Scripture…followed by the discipline of confessing and forsaking sin and renewing one’s gratitude to Christ for his pardoning mercy to be a source of great inner peace and joy.”
Piety Lived Out
With the strokes of an artist’s brush, the author gives us a beautiful portrait of piety. We’ve been shown the facets of its meaning, the related obstacles plus the “how to’s” of living it. The 1828 Webster Dictionary says of this virtue, “piety in principle, is a compound of veneration or reverence of the Supreme Being and love of His character or veneration accompanied with love; and piety in practice, is the exercise of these affections in obedience to His will and devotion to His service.” It is clear to see that piety comes from a surrendered and yielded life to our Savior – purposefully living and loving Jesus “with holy abandon.”
Please use these questions to meditate further on piety and feel free to share your thoughts below.
- Think about God’s character qualities. List as many of them as you can. Meditate on one or more of these each day this week in worship and adoration to your King.
- What situations has God used to show you your own sinfulness? Have you acknowledged this sin to God? If so, what change did this bring about in your life?