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“But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.'” 1 Peter 1:15-16, NASB
How many times have we heard the phrase, “holier-than-thou”? It’s not used complimentarily, and it’s definitely not an attitude we strive to attain. Sadly, however, we as Christians often are seen that way. Yet I’m certain that’s not God’s intention when He instructs us to be holy.
So what does holiness look like in 2015? Gone are the Puritan and pioneer days. We live in modern society–complete with incessant distractions, evolving technology, and global connections. We don’t labor in the fields or wait patiently for crops to grow because our meals can be purchased at drive-thru windows and eaten while we drive to our next event. Living comes relatively easy, and I wonder how holiness fits in.
I struggle to translate my mind’s image of a ‘holy’ woman into today’s America, for my imagination displays a quiet, modestly clad woman seated contentedly in her home with a peaceful smile. Cheerfully she tends to her children and her home while humming hymns and baking bread. Periodically, she reads Bible passages and teaches God’s Word to her precious little ones. Her life appears, well, perfect–perfectly holy.
But wait a minute. While that’s a lovely vision, it’s not within reach for me.
What in the world does a holy woman in my circumstances–American, middle-class, wife and mother, homemaker and ordinary Christian–look like?
In the words of my Key Word Study Bible, the “fundamental idea is separation, consecration, devotion to the service of Deity, sharing in God’s purity and abstaining from earth’s defilement” (pg. 1797).
Holiness begins deep within and rises to the surface, enabling others to see Christ in our behavior.
Separation. Consecration. Devotion.
These concepts stir me. I yearn to be set apart for God … consecrated to Him … fully devoted to serving Him. My flesh and the world just interfere, which is where the definition’s remainder applies:
Sharing and abstaining … purity vs. defilement.
We live in an incredibly defiled world. We’re rearing children in confusing, wicked times. We’re married in a culture that has re-defined marriage. But we cannot retreat into our homes with blinders on and earplugs in, adopting that “holier-than-thou” attitude. Humbly, we must recognize our own sinfulness and practice compassion toward those who need Christ, aiming to:
- Share God’s purity in the thoughts we think, the words we speak, and the actions we take.
- Abstain mentally and physically from sinful enticements, which the world offers in abundance.
This is what being holy looks like–it’s not an old-fashioned, unrealistic notion. Do we truly long for it? I know the weaknesses and sinful tendencies of my own heart. Can we attain it on our own? Absolutely not. God the Holy Spirit lives inside us … He motivates and inspires us to grow us in holiness. As we walk in the Spirit, we’ll experience the beauty of holiness.