What is a devout Christian? Should all Christians be devout? Why is this important?
What is the meaning of Devout?
The word devout usually has deep religious significance but it could mean that someone stands firm in their allegiance to someone or something. Someone who’s devout will be loyal in what they believe with every bit of their strength. The military are devoted to the defense of the nation but it is also a particular belief in an organization, person, or in God. There are devoted sports fans which still show up for the game, even though their team is in last place. That is being devoted. The proper context of someone who is devout will show devotion towards someone or some cause like we are about in Acts 2:42 “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. Today, if we are devoted to the New Testament, we too are devoting ourselves to the apostles’ teaching because they wrote most of the New Testament. They were also devoted to one another in fellowship and some believe that “breaking bread” is simply eating meals together. Others believe that “breaking bread” was a devotion that led to their partaking of the Lord’s Supper or Communion but they were also devoted to praying for one another. That is what a devout Christian does. A devout Christian is what a devout Christian does!
Devoted to God
A man who was a Roman centurion is a supreme example of someone who was a devout believer in God and his name was “Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God” (Acts 10:1-2). To be devoted to God is to always fear God; it could mean that they also give to the poor but certainly praying in a continuous manner would be seen as someone being devoted. Incidentally, to fear God doesn’t mean having a dread terror of being struck dead by God at any moment but it’s a deep, holy, reverential respect of God and that fear generally translates into obedience; obedience that comes out of a joy and gratitude to God, not out of compulsion or necessity. Cornelius was later introduced to Christ and he was saved so Peter “commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:48).
Devoted to Christ
After Stephen was stoned to death for his belief, “Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him” (Acts 8:2). Stephen was such a devout Christian that he did as much good as the Roman centurion Cornelius did and never backed away from proclaiming the gospel even at the risk of losing his life and for which he eventually paid. Prior to Jesus arrival at the temple as a babe, the law required that “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord” and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord” (Luke 2:23-24) and so at that same time “there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him” (Luke 2:25). How long had this man been waiting for the Messiah’s arrival? It could have been most of his life. That is a pure devotion to Christ.
Devoted to one Another
Since the church is called the Body of Christ, when we are devoted to one another, we’re really showing our devotion to Christ. How about the command we’re given to “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom 12:10)? Beyond the church at Rome “the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and…they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints” (1st Cor 16:15) and again, we remember that in the early church “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). Jesus is clear about where our devotion must lie because we cannot “serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Luke 16:13).
To be a devout Christian is to be devoted to Christ. This means a devotion to God that is displayed in obedience to Him and His Word, in being a faithful witness for Christ, and in serving one another by being devoted to one another. We are a devout Christian if we are devout in our faith in Him and in putting Christ first and His kingdom (Matt 6:33). That’s a worthy goal to be sure.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.