"Let the children come to me." Matthew 19:14
“If you love me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15
There is something in our flesh that wants to try to earn God's love. We love to check off mental lists of what we have done for Him to be good little Christians. We measure ourselves by others who do not look as "Christian" or do as much as we do. We feel guilty when we misbehave and do something that makes us feel "bad" or sinful.
The truth is, because we could never be holy or perfect on our own, He had to save us. We could never attain to His high standards. And so, "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8.
What About The Need to Live an Excellent Life?
But, you say, someone claiming to walk in holiness must exhibit an excellent life. Yes, I agree. Yet holiness—being willing to be set aside for God's purposes, to make Him known, to proclaim His kingdom and kingdom ways—is not a set of behaviors we put on from the outside, but ways of being which spill over into our behavior from a loving heart. It happens when our heart is so grateful to God for His gentle, humble mercy on all of us who are so likely to be selfish and sinful, His redeeming grace that wipes our faults and sins away as though we have never sinned, His affirmation of our worth because He has adopted us, that we can't want anything but to please Him.
It is significant to me that it was Peter, the wonderful, outspoken, imperfect, passionate lover of God who so publicly failed, who admonishes us to do as Jesus said: "Be holy as I am holy" (1 Peter 1:6.) Peter was not in any way telling us to perform holy deeds, but from our hearts to be His, to love His ways, to serve Him wholeheartedly.
When one understands that it is God who created this beautiful place for us to live; the stars, the vast and powerful oceans, the thousands of flowers that bloom in the spring, the vibrant reds, oranges, yellows of dying leaves in the fall, then worship is a natural response.
Of the woman weeping and washing His feet with her tears, Jesus said, "She who is forgiven much, loves much." Why do we stay moral and pure in marriage? Because we know it pleases Him. He calls marriage sacred because it is a picture of our bridegroom Jesus loving and serving and committing Himself to preparing us for the wedding feast. Out of a desire to honor this sacred picture, we love and serve and give of ourselves generously in our marriages, so that our lives can reflect to others the beauty of committed, gracious love.
Holiness in the Home
We serve our children and give up our own time to sacrifice for them, not out of works or duty, but because Jesus Himself gave His love and blessing to children, even after the harsh-hearted response His disciples had given the children who came to surround Him. We understand that God said children are a blessing and the fruit of the womb is a reward, and so we cherish them and serve them as Jesus served His disciples, because we deeply revere Him, love Him, and want to honor Him.
A holy life will reflect the character of Christ because it springs out of the heart whose life flows out from knowing Him. And so excellence, sacrifice, hard work, loyalty, love, joy, peace, patience, and so on, will be the virtues that grow in and through our holy lives. Holiness will come from being connected to Him, the Vine, the Source of all goodness. Loving Him will produce service to Him from a grateful heart, and the process of holiness will overtake our character as we seek to know and love Him.