Friday, February 8, 2013

Why Holiness is Beautiful

Who would want to be as ugly as "holier than thou" people?

If God's holy and I'm not, why does the Bible say "be holy"?

Why be holy if it means being boring?

Holy simply means "set apart." But of all the ideas presented by the Bible, perhaps nothing is less understood than holiness. Holiness seems to be the domain of clergy, missionaries, and spiritual giants—or religious snobs. The word "holy" is more likely to evoke images of candle lit cathedrals, flowing robes, and vessels of gold than of beaches and boardrooms, shopping malls and construction zones.

Regardless of how we define "holy," both Old Testament (eight times) and New Testament (four times) contain an imperative from God to all of His people:

"And you shall be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine."
~ Leviticus 20:26 (NKJV)

God does not ask the impossible. He simply makes a logical distinction already evident throughout our culture.

You can easily discern which people in Wal-Mart are set apart as employees by their blue vests. Police officers are set apart by their uniform, badge and gun. And there's something about their manner that sets apart college instructors from the students, even when age and clothing aren't all that different.

Of all advice I've heard about success in the business world, one I consider very practical is this: wear attire which approximates the appearance of the boss, neither more dressy nor more casual.

And so God asks the same thing of people who are His—"look like Me." Too many Christians make the mistake of thinking that means we should all look alike.

"For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
~ 1 Samuel 16:7 (NKJV)

God is love (1 John 4:8,16). Jesus said we would be known as His disciples—recognized as set apart to Him—by our love for one another (John 13:34-35).

… we should be holy and without blame before Him in love …
~ Ephesians 1:4 (NKJV)

May I therefore suggest that the most vital component of being set apart to God as His is to grow increasingly more loving with the selfless love of Jesus?

Asking "What would Jesus do?" might be a starting place for what it means to love as God loves. It is also not wise to put God in a box, lest He directs something completely unpredictable. Although Jesus twice fed a hungry crowd, His Word also says that people who won't work shouldn't eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Jesus often healed people, but sometimes withheld healing (Matthew 13:58, 15:23-24). The gentle and lowly Jesus (Matthew 11:29) occasionally used strong names (Matthew 12:34, Luke 10:3, John 8:44) and a whip of cords (John 2:15).

All ways, at all times, Jesus remained love. To look like Jesus is to look like selfless love, whether in business attire or T-shirt and jeans. To look like Jesus is to look like selfless love, at home, office, vacation, hospital, church, store. To look like Jesus is to look like selfless love, in the time to remain silent and the time to speak boldly.

To be holy is to be set apart to God, increasingly used by Him to fulfill His purposes rather than our own purposes, continually growing in reliance upon His divine strength rather than our human resolve.

"It's easy to be a holy man on top of a mountain."
~ Mountaintop monk, The Razor's Edge

One way to be holy on top of a mountain is to withdraw from people and situations that provoke us to unholiness. Holiness also occurs on spiritual mountaintops, when we experience profound blessing and easily pass it along.

God's people are also called to be holy when we're running late, the express lane line is long with full carts, and that blue vest associate is in no hurry. We are called to be holy when cut off, in traffic or in conversation. We are called to be holy with the people and situations that would cause the most reasonable people to lose their temper.

God's people are called to be holy in the deepest of dark valleys, where we lose hope of seeing the mountaintops we can hardly remember, because God assures us that He walks with us and is in us.

He has sent us a mighty Savior …
So we can serve God without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before Him
All the days of our life.
Luke 1:69,74-75 (NLT, NKJV)

Holiness is neither ugly nor boring. To be holy is to look like God. His beauty—His ultimate beauty—is the beauty of love and goodness.

: : :

Note: In follow up to this post, please see
The Case for Love: "Love is the Answer"

Comments are welcome (including respectful disagreement) and will receive a reply.
You may also contact author via Twitter – @anne4JC
or e-mail – use *after* buildingHisbody
Copyright 2013, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.


  1. Very good post, so glad I read it. It blessed my heart!

    Your words remind me of something I heard recently: dead people don't get hurt feelings.
    If we die to self daily, it doesn't matter how others treat us...we are dead and Christ is alive! That means we respond in love even when it's contrary to how we feel. I don't think I said that as eloquently as I heard it, but I hope you get the point.

    1. TC, it is my heart blessed by your comment. If few people see value in holiness, I think it only because they don't really understand its beauty.

      As for the quote about dead people not getting hurt feelings, I am glad you've shared that. I absolutely get the point about being dead to self. Well said!


Your comments are appreciated and you can expect a reply. If Blogger doesn't accept your comment, or if you prefer
another method, I hope you'll respond via Twitter or email
(see sidebar icons or the "Contact Me" tab, above).

(Comments to older posts and will appear after approval.)