Monday, December 16, 2019

Understanding 'Holy'

Bible, Christian, Jesus, Religion

We all have some vague understanding of 'Holy' but for most it is not an easily definable word or concept.
HOLY  is a rare and unique word in the sense that it is the only word we have that is totally meaningless if God is removed from any definition.
Yet, the word is one we are all very familiar with . We all know God is Holy,  The word is used in 544 verses in our Bibles.  In fact, the word Holy is imprinted on most Bible covers.  Yet it is strangely a word people struggle to define.
 God is Holy, which we readily acknowledge.  Yet, there is a commandment in Leviticus 11:45 that says ... "Be holy, for I am Holy!"   How shall we obey this command if we are not sure what 'holy' actually is ?

'Holy' is a word that has always held a very reverent place in my mind and heart and always brings a sense of awe when I hear it or even think it .... but it was only recently that God enlightened my mind to grasp a deeper understanding of what it means.

To be 'holy' means to be always true to character.  It means that all of the time, every time , in every way,  in word or deed there is a purity of character - an unchanging and unvarying action and reaction in every situation. Who then can be holy but only God?
As it states in James 1:17 in reference to God ..." the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning."    No shadow of turning refers to the old sundials which indicated the time of day by the changing of the shadow on the dial .   With God there is no variation of change - as He is in the morning , so is He at night ...  no sun or anything else has any effect of change in who He is.

Understanding the unchanging character of God has only one conclusion -- God is totally and always dependable.   He will always be true to Himself -- we can trust that He will never change.   And we can know without a shadow of doubt that all of  His promises are true.  If God even once, in one person's life reneged on ONE promise , He would no longer be holy. 
Every promise of God is true, all the time, for everyone to whom the promise was made - to every child of God trusting in Him.

Let me give you an example from my own life - recent events. 
One of God's promises are found in Philippians_4:19  "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." 
Our default is often to limit that verse to a monetary promise but of course it refers to  much more.  Financial security cannot and does not meet all our needs -- often not able to meet the most important ones. 

Recently, my husband had an accident with my granddaughter in the vehicle.  He was picking her up and was coming off my daughter's driveway.  A parked vehicle was blocking his view of oncoming traffic and he inched out a little too far into the street and a gravel truck -  the driver of which said the sun was in his eyes and he could not see -  drove over the front end of my husband's vehicle - first with the front tire , then with the rear tire.   No one was hurt in the accident and while there was no damage to the gravel truck our little Toyota was totaled.  My husband does not do well in emergency situations like this, and tends to panic.  He called me but I was not able to get to the accident scene to help.  
God in His foreknowledge knew what was going to happen that day and while both my daughter and son-in-law would have been at work, God made other plans. That morning my daughter woke up with a slight cold and called in sick . Since she was going to be home, my son-in-law took a Family-day off work and so both of them were unexpectedly at home.   
Yet God's provision went further.   Had they been in the house they would have experienced the shock of hearing the horrible crash and their first thoughts would have been fearing the worst !  No, God spared them that.  They had gone out to run a quick errand and came home just in time to see my husband and granddaughter standing -safe and sound-  on the street looking at the accident..   No trauma for any one !  And my daughter  - who is a take-charge kind of person - immediately made sure everything was taken care of regarding the accident. 

My brother and his wife moved about 12 hours away from extended family to a city up country.  My sister-in-law was diagnosed with a rare cancer 8 years ago but her doctor found a little known drug that has extended her life far beyond the medical expectation.  But now she was getting worse.  She had a strong desire to come visit her sister and felt well enough to do so.   She was here only a couple days and ended up in emergency in the hospital. They quickly diagnosed her as beyond help, and within a week or so was placed in hospice.  A beautiful and caring place to be for end-of-life patients.   Now she was with extended family and friends and receiving good and loving medical care - all of which would not have been available where they live.   God knew, God provided in giving her the desire and ability to come visit her sister, knowing that this is where she would want and need to be!  

I lost a very dear friend to cancer in the last year.  I lead a woman's bible study group that she was part of.  We were having one of our summer lunches that I hosted in our clubhouse.  She was already not well but still having good days and she was happy that this luncheon day was a good day. As the women started coming I happened to glance over at the food table that was being filled with salad bowls and my eye fell on a plate of dill pickles.  It struck me as a little odd -- who brings dill pickles to a salad luncheon?   But, I shrugged, smiled and thought someone really loves pickles.   We had not yet gathered around the table when my friend came to me and said... ."Julie, I feel really bad... I have incredible heartburn, the pressure is terrible.  I can't stay, I'm going to have to go home."   
I responded .. "Ohh !  but someone has brought pickles !!!   Just eat one and you will be fine."  She said, "Really?"  but was willing to try and I watched her eat a pickle.  Someone distracted her and she walked away.   Not many minutes later, she came to me and told me that she was totally fine. ALL the symptoms were relieved.  She stayed, ate and enjoyed the meal and fellowship .. God provided.  I never did find out who brought the pickles, no one confessed. I still wonder how God prompted them to bring the pickles.... or ...  just maybe did God bring them Himself?  (smile) 

Back to the commandment that we too are to be holy.   How can we be holy?  Is not only God holy?   Yes ... but only because He  alone  is perfect - totally without sin.  
He commands us to be holy in that more and more we become true to the character of God.  We have His Holy Spirit indwelling us and helping us to be godly in all our ways - our words , our actions and our reactions.   We are not perfect and never will be ... BUT .. this is to be our daily aim and goal - to be true to our 'new' character, to be dependable, to be people of our word with a reputation of being trustworthy, honest, true, kind, gentle, compassionate , forgiving ... "...against such there is no law."  (Galatians 5:23) 

Let us walk in faith - knowing, believing that our God - because He is holy is ALWAYS dependable and true to His word and will fulfill all His promises.   
And let us strive to be holy, even as He is holy.