“that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” I Timothy 2: 2b
There was a small picture hanging in my grandmother’s kitchen that I’ve been looking at since I was a small child and it now hangs in my workshop at home. You may have seen this picture along the way yourself of an older man, his face creased deeply with wrinkles, wispy white hair on his head and a neatly trimmed white beard bowing his head at the table. His manner is dignified as he holds himself before a simple meal of bread, his arthritic hands folded tightly in front of him as he says a quiet prayer of thanks for his meal.
There is another picture, just like this that I’ve seen of an elderly woman and all of the same could be said of her as she says grace with thankfulness over a simple meal in a quiet and dignified manner. Looking at these pictures there is just something about them that makes you (at least me) say, “that’s the kind of life I want to grow into, the kind of person I would like to be when I grow old.”
I know I’m going to sound “old” when I say this but everything is just so loud right now, (in my world, online and in my own head) so in your face, supersized, over the top, glitzy that it feels like everyone is running around in a frantic race so worried about missing out on something new that there seems to be no value found in a quiet and dignified kind of life. I know this isn’t true across the board, but it feels that way, but this is exactly the kind of life that godly Christians are called to live.
When I say these words, dignified and quiet, I want you to understand what is meant.
The greek work for dignified is σεμνότης, (I think it is a beautiful sounding word) it refers to exhibiting proper reverence and veneration to what has real weight and value, those things in life that have a gravity to them, that are weighty when much of what the world offers is light and insubstantial. It reflects what has been transformed by God and exhibits “moral and spiritual weight. This kind of life that dwells in the gravity of what has real value gains a weightiness of it’s own, like what attends to a deep and godly character. The person that has this dignity has been given weight by dwelling in the presence of what has been transformed and made substantial by God and it invites reverence from others, not to worship the person but to be drawn in and given weight by the same holy things.
The word for quiet in this passage is ἡσύχιος and it is one of those words that rings bells for us like the word submissive does. We internally think it means quiet like being a doormat for someone to walk on kind of quiet. But the sense of this word is much more like being steady and settled on the inside and out because of a divinely inspired inner calmness. Think of it as being “appropriately tranquil” by not misusing thoughts, words and actions that unnecessarily cause needless friction and commotion. Being still because the presence of the Holy Spirit that dwells within you holds you steady.
A life that gravitates around those things that have eternal value and spiritual weight and is described by a sense of divinely inspired calmness and peace that invites others to gravitate around those same eternally valuable and weighty things. That is a godly quiet and dignified life. How different is this kind of life from the frenetic, never still, always anxious, always trying to prove ourselves life that will kill itself in the holiday season to come and will end up spiritually, financially and emotionally bankrupt by December 26th.
That kind of life in all of it’s flavors can not every satisfy, it’s like eating a bag of potato chips, it will only blow you up, give you an upset stomach and leave you hungry for real food in an hour. A life filled by only fast food will only leave you hungry and hurting. What we want is that meal of slow roasted turkey and rich gravy, vegetables and mashed potatoes, the kind of meal that leaves you full, forces you to unbuckle your belt and satisfies like nothing else can. But even turkey and mashed potatoes go away eventually.
It is the weight of the cross of our savior and a relationship with Him that is the only thing that has the eternal kind of value that we need and that nothing else can ever truly match. Because unlike everything else that is pursued and chased after in this world the weight of God’s righteousness and His holiness given to us in faith are the only things that are strong enough to last.
That is why a life weighed down by the weight of the cross is one that can live well that quiet and dignified kind of life, because it is thankful in this life whether it has little or plenty because it already possesses all that really matters and will last. This kind of life can sit down at the table before a simple meal of bread and with quiet dignity give thanks for the blessings that will carry them into eternity. In our Christian faith let this kind of life be said of as well.