Godliness Makes The Difference

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Godliness Makes The Difference

Warren E. Berkley

Samuel Johnson prepared a monumental work first published in 1755, Dictionary Of The English Language. He read the great works of English literature, devoured text books, catalogued massive libraries, organized a staff of writers and research people, and lived in pursuit of the task for almost ten years.

Johnson was an enigma in person. A brilliant master of words and syntax, but a miserable man who was often broke, alienated from family, struggling with failed relationships and never with full commitment of heart to be a godly man.

Reading a book about Johnson’s struggles, I’ve become reacquainted with the fact that intelligence and eloquence never finds their highest potential without godliness. For one thing, an intelligent eloquent writer or speaker can say almost anything well, regardless of heart and life.

Samuel Johnson, for example, wrote against the use of alcohol: “these liquors, my Lords, liquors of which the strength is heightened by distillation, have a natural tendency to inflame the blood, to consume the vital juices, destroy the force of the vessels, contract the nerves, and weaken the sinews . . . they not only disorder the mind for a time, but by a frequent use precipitate old age, exasperate diseases, and multiply and increase all the infirmities to which the body of man is liable.”  {See Prov. 20:1}

Johnson, however, wrote with equal eloquence in favor of alcohol: “The Cyder, Sir, which I am now rescuing from contemptuous Comparisons, has often exhilarated my social hours, enlivened the Freedom of Conversation, and improved the Tenderness of Friendship, and shall not therefore now want a Panegyrist. It is one of those few Subjects on which an Encomiast may expatiate without deviating from the Truth.”

Give a good writer almost any subject of controversy, and he can write well on either side. We recognize this as duplicity.

Godliness enables us to use our talents with integrity and reverence to God. Godly people serve God and others in high quality because they have given their talents to God, to be used under His instruction and for His glory.

“Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” Heb. 13:15

Johnson Quotations from the book Samuel Johnson: The Struggle, by Jeffrey Meyers.

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