“Our progress in holiness depends on God and ourselves – on God’s grace and our will to be holy.” I recently came across these words by Mother Teresa that started me thinking about what it means to be holy. In Leviticus 20:7-8 we read: Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. Keep my statutes and do them; I am the Lord who sanctifies you.
Further, 1 Peter 1:13-16 reveals that we are called to be holy: Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.“
This means holiness is not an option but must be our response to God’s grace. We love God through our obedience to His commands and by living a holy life set apart from the way of the world. How does this work out in the reality of the world we live in? I believe it has everything to do in the decisions we make and the actions we take in every moment of each day of our lives. How would you respond to the following situations?:
- You find out that your Islamic neighbour, who you have never taken the time to know, has fallen very ill? Do you go out of your way to pray, visit, and seek to lend a helping hand? Holiness is loving others as God loves us.
- You have the opportunity to purchase a very lucrative business that thrives because of its sports bar that makes a huge profit from the sale of alcohol. What would your moral decision be? Holiness is obeying God even when it is against our own interests.
- You have an hour for lunch each work day. Do you use that time to speak to and encourage someone who is struggling even though you can’t stand their constant bemoaning? Holiness is sharing God’s love even when it is inconvenient.
- There are millions of Syrians in crisis today and you may or may not have the means to help. Would you step out of your comfort zone anyway to do something practical that would make a difference? Holiness is finding ways to help those In need.
- You receive an invitation to a friend’s bachelor party at a posh strip club. What would you decide to do? Holiness is saying “NO” to sin or things that do not please God.
- How much time do you spend entertaining yourself watching TV, movies etc. versus reading God’s word? Holiness is putting God first in our life.
Achieving holiness is not a work of self alone, it is also the work of the Holy Spirit as a result of our complete surrender to the will of God and repenting as we see our sinfulness in light of God’s truth. Our goal is to seek what we can do to please God instead of seeking what God can do for us. If you find that your life does not measure up to the standard God calls us to, I encourage you as I encourage myself to spend more time in prayer and reading of God’s word because holiness is not an option but God’s call that we must obey, if we say we love Him.