I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy. Leviticus 11:45
because it is written, "YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY." I Peter 1: 16
Today's culture gives us permission to do pretty much what we feel like doing. "I'm ok, you're ok." Even in Christian circles. Many of the phone calls I receive from my older children when they have lived or traveled all over the world are about one more disappointment with would be believers, who have justified compromise. Moral compromise, behavioral compromise, "It's ok--everyone does it. It's not that bad." mentality.
One of my goals in my life is to search out people, books, places that will cause me to want to love God more, want to live a more excellent life, want to devote myself to ministry--those areas that cultivate in me a desire to be holy, set apart for God's purposes. I have three friends who are older, and they are stalwart, seasoned, mature women. I know that when I am with them, I will hear something from the word. I will be challenged by their thoughts, their lives, their convictions and the ways they are living.
I am far from perfect, but how fortunate I have been to have walked with God for many years and to have been challenged to hold fast to Him, amidst all of my struggles. Even as Jacob wrestled with God and would not let him go until He blessed Him, so it has been my heart's desire to hold fast to Him until I see Him face to face.
It is a rare privilege to meet someone who has determined to be holy--truly set apart for the Lord. A holy person listens to His voice, seeks His word, prays for His guidance. I believe that God is so willing to work in great ways in and through the lives of many a person, but the requirement is the heart--
Some of the requirements of one who is Holy
1. A person who is set apart for God's purposes has learned to view their lives in light of eternity (Seek first the kingdom of God; Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven and not on earth; Teach us to number our days that we might present to thee a heart of wisdom; Two commandments--love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor.)
2. We must put away our sin inside of our hearts where no one else can see---
Is there an idol in your life? (money, television, facebook, twitter, acceptance from others, popularity, romance novels, anything that replaces God in our hearts, as our source of satisfaction or joy is an idol--God will not tolerate idols.)
Is there any bitterness, insecurity, fear, anger, condemnation of others, behavior (critical attitude, judgment, pornography, lust) that we have not yielded in our hearts to God? God and sin cannot dwell together in the same space of our hearts. Whatever we practice, we become--we cannot love God and practice bitterness or hate or fear--we must choose our master and yield our heart's to Him when the Holy Spirit puts his finger on an attitude or practice--the more we ignore His voice, the more we become used to listening to the wisdom of the world which is all around us.
3. One who is focussed on pleasing God must spend time in His word. I am surrounded by people who say, "God told me this." "Or why did God do that to me?" lots of God talk, but no basis in scripture. I look for those who are listening to the voice of God, "How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the path of sinners or sit in the seat of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord and in this law He meditates day and night.
4. A Holy person is humble--meek, compassionate, and gives grace to others. (Jesus said, "I am humble and meek. Learn from me.") A proud person cannot be used by God. He gives grace to the humble but is opposed to the proud. I have not met an older person who is godly who has not been humbled in her own eyes.
Humility leads a person to say, "Life is not about me or my pleasure or my happiness. It is about Him and His ways. Be it done to me according to your will, Oh God."
As I look at all the obstacles of my life, all the difficulties and deeply painful times, I see that God was leading me on a course for my heart, so that I would understand the struggles of others, have more compassion for them, learn to extend His grace to them. A holy person says, "Have your way in my life and I will look at everything that happens to me as a lesson or place where I might be faithful to you or where I might have something to learn about ministry."
5. A person who is holy is committed to growing in love, because this is what pleases God. Loving means putting away anger, harshness and violence for any reason. Love means seeing the other person through the eyes of serving and encouraging them--not asking what the person can do for me. Love means generously pouring out life-giving words and messages--I believe in you. I appreciate you. I accept you. I will help you. I love you and let there be no doubt, I will be committed to you and seek your best my whole life.
Love does not come easily, but it matures over time. But without love, we cannot please God. He cares not so much that our theology is perfectly in line, but that we serve others in love. (The Good Samaritan is one example.)
6. Holiness requires that we choose to believe in God's presence, purpose, attention, every moment, every day. Without faith, it is impossible to please Him. We believe in the dark times of life. We worship and sing to Him every day. We wait as long as it takes to see His answer to our prayers. We wait on God and God only.
I want to be faithful and holy until I see Him face to face. All of life mitigates against my faithfulness--I am weak and vulnerable. I am surrounded by voices of the world. I am tempted regularly. I am lazy and tired and undisciplined at times. But, I have written and made commitments that are at the front of my mind to call me to my ideals. These commitments speak to my heart, call to me to keep going, give me personal accountability.
What commitments have you made that keep you going? What are your ideals, your hopes, that keep you going? No one can make you be faithful or strong, but God is cheering for you, hoping you will be one of those who stands fast, holds on, chooses Him, desires in your heart to be holy and faithful to Him. What will you choose today?
I rather like this quote by Carl Sandburg, ""Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you."
Be careful lest other people spend it for you--a set apart life is intentional, it is a life lived not for the here and now and to please the voices of this world. We do only have one life in which to live a great and inspiring story.
I will be talking about some of my own commitments in the days ahead. Let's encourage one another to hold fast, to be one of those set apart ones. What are some of your commitments? What are your personal heart ideals? I would love to hear.