You may have heard of the one about the rich man who died and turned up at the Pearly Gates with bags of gold bullion. St. Peter asked him, "Why did you bring paving stones to heaven?" The joke is funny because it highlights the absurdity of attempting to take this life's temporary riches into The Life to come, and how even more ridiculous it would be - even you could - due to Heaven's already magnificent limitless opulence. Nothing in this life surpasses The Life that awaits those whom God has saved. But there is something that we can take with us from this life into The Life to come.
...Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
First Timothy 4:7b- 8
The aged apostle told his protegé that you can take it with you - but not stuff. Rather, the one thing you can take with you from life temporal into Life Eternal is: godliness. When the child of God is brought Home to be with their Magnificent One, their knowledge will exponentially increase ("now we know in part..."). The child of God's abilities will be dramatically multiplied and improved to superhuman levels. Perhaps most deliciously, the child of God can look forward to a perfected, glorified body that will never tire, ache, degrade, or age. But godliness holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. In the Life To Come, no one will be more godly than they attain to in this life. Paul previously introduced this revelation as a 'great mystery'.
Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:
First Timothy 3:16
The aged apostle knows that he is about to depart this Temporal Life and enter The Life To Come. In his final months, he was betrayed, slandered, abandoned, imprisoned, mistreated, and humiliated - yet, in all this, he was being made more godly..
By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
First Timothy 1:19b-20
Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.
Second Timothy 4:14
The godly person used to fester with bitterness when they were wronged. But then godliness has a way of working its surprising and gentle transforming that a bitter person is yet to savor or enjoy.
WHAT IS GODLINESS?
Godliness is a profoundly deep respect for God and His Word that draws a person into an equally profound surrender to God. This delightful devotion seamlessly becomes a perpetual lifestyle of worship which produces a glad and willing obedience to Jesus that God mercifully allows to be sorely tried. And this proving is emphatically indispensable to genuine godliness. Godliness cannot be produced apart from adversity, trial, overcoming temptation, refusing to justify our compromise, or hardships. It is only in those moments when the child of The Most High has to depend upon and resolutely trust her God that godliness can be beautified and proven.
Paul says that some people claim to be followers of Christ - and even look godly - but watch them under pressure and adversity! When challenged by spiritual leadership do they submit or become: reckless, swollen with conceit and pride, doing what they want rather than what they should?
treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
Second Timothy 3:4-5
Godliness is therefore an attitude that is observed by acts of devotion to Christ that brings its devotees into closer and sweeter communion with Christ. Godliness is not holiness because holiness is a result of godliness. It requires training (1Tim. 4:7). It fosters proper responsibility toward family members (1Tim. 5:4). It is fueled by sound Biblical teaching (1Tim. 6:3). It gives more than it takes (1Tim. 6:5). It is prized above any material gain (1Tim. 6:6). It is to be pursued instead of yielding to the cravings of our lusts (1Tim. 6:10-11). It requires a growing knowledge of God's Word that instructs the believer how to be self-controlled that enables them to endure suffering. And godliness can only nurtured when regularly environed in a community of other godly God-adorers.
and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,
Second Peter 1:6
Without exception, you can't take it with you when you die except for the exception of your godliness. The extent to which you become godly is the extent to which you will be godly in The Life To Come. This is why the grace of God can save a wayward one on their deathbed, but God's saving grace is best outworked into godliness by receiving Christ very early rather than very late. It takes years of grace to work aspects of the beauty and strength that only years of godliness can produce. No mater what you've done, or who you've done it to, or how many times you've done it, the Altogether Glorious One's limitless love can change your heart, direction and destiny, as He forgives you for eternity.
If you receive His undeserved offer of adoption and begin to realise that you have just become a spiritual trillionaire and heir to an inexhaustible reserve of true riches, the cost of living a godly life in this Temporal Life becomes, in comparison, an infinitesimally small price to pay - and you get to take it all with you into The Life To Come!