And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.'” (Leviticus 19:1-2)
Have you ever stopped and considered what it truly means to be holy? I know what I thought it meant growing up in church. It was defined by the clothes we wore and didn’t wear, what kind of language we used and whether we wore jewelry and went to the movies. In other words, my understanding of holiness was based on actions and outward appearances. Doing these things (or not doing other things) was considered to be evidence of righteous living.
Frankly, holiness does express itself in an outward way. Holiness says there is a proper and modest way to dress. Holiness dictates that we should not use course and offensive language and we should be especially careful about what we subject our senses to, whether it be at a movie theater or a sports bar. However, holiness as God defines it, transcends the outward expressions — it goes to the heart of the matter. All those outward expressions performed to the letter, without a genuine change of heart, lends itself not to living righteously but being self-righteous.
Here is my point: our God is holy and, consequently, demonstrates what true holiness is to His people through His Word and His deeds. In examining His deeds, here is what we can observe — in the beginning of the Torah, God clothed a naked Adam. At end of the Torah, He buried Moses. In the person of Messiah, He healed the sick, freed the captives, extended mercy and did good to His enemies. In short, God demonstrates holiness through loving kindness, consideration and long suffering.
Holiness, then, is not some ethereal, abstract idea but a regulative principle in everyday life that manifests in the physical world through our words and deeds. It is not determined, however, solely by what we see on the outside but is demonstrated outwardly by those who have given their hearts to God. So then, let us continually live holy lives that our fellowman may be encouraged and that our Father may be glorified.
Blessings and Shalom,