Continued from here.
One might assume that as I have grown holier in particular areas of my life, I must now be judgmental of those who are not. The opposite has actually turned out to be true. For example, when I hear women talking about how unhappy they are in their marriages, I feel sad because I can see how their complaints are a reflection of areas of unholiness in their marriage, and I know how painful that is. I also know that they must first be ready to begin working the holiness planted inside of them to move it to the outside so it bears fruit, and only God knows when they are ready. If I try to tell them how to live their lives in judgment, my words will be counterproductive.
I find myself engaging in more prayer for those around me who are struggling in areas where I once struggled. When I sense the Holy Spirit’s prompting, I’ll share my own story. Only if they ask to do make any suggestions. As an example, when people complain to me about their marriages and I sense the Holy Spirit’s prompting, I’ll share my story, which includes how God used Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick’s The Love Dare to help heal my marriage, and if they seem interested, I’ll offer to buy a copy of the book for them. It’s up to them whether or not to read or work through the book, just as it was up to me when I was in a similar place.
True holiness is the opposite of judgment. It enables you to see clearly enough to see the speck in someone’s eye because you have already removed the plank out of yours. And because you know how painful it was to remove the plank, you feel tenderness, compassion, and empathy for the one with a splinter.
[Graphic: Cover of The Love Dare. Courtesy Amazon.]
Continued from here.
As I have grown to love God more, I find myself wanting to please Him more. I know that it pleased God for me to obey Him, so I have made the decision to do what he tells me to do, even when I don’t want to do it or fear that I cannot do it. This has resulted in me doing things that bless other people. In some cases, it really annoys them, such as my choice not to speed when I drive.
Working God’s holiness to the outside has come in many forms in my life, and it has thankfully been a gradual process. I use the example of a dimmer switch for what this process has been like. At first, God illuminated my heart at the very lowest light setting – no more light than a candle would show. I made changes in my life to be more holy (to obey God) and thought I looked pretty good … until He turned up the dimmer switch a hair more and I saw more that needed to change. We’ve been going through this process for years now, and I still don’t think I could handle God turning on a floodlight!
As an example, over the past few years, I have made a lot of changes in what I watch or read. First, I stopped watching anything that was sexual enough to be pushing its way into soft pornography. Then, I stopped watching anything violent. Next, I stopped watching anything with profanity in it. And then I lost interest in topics that ran blatantly against my values, such as shows with characters with sexual storylines, even though the sex was taking place off screen.
I truly did not see anything “wrong” with any of those shows for many years. However, as God turned the dimmer switch another notch, I grew to recognize the unholiness and no longer wanted it in my life. I did not tell anyone else what to watch or not watch … I simply made the choice for myself that I don’t need to be watching people be murdered or listening to profanity.
I did not appreciate how desensitized I had become to violence and profanity until removing both from my viewing and reading. Now that I have, I’m very aware of just how violent and profane our society has become. A friend helped me make sense of what I was experiencing. She said I’m like a runner training for a marathon. Because I’m so focused on getting spiritually healthy, I’m now more aware when I am around unhealthy things.
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace smiling with a heart over her head. Courtesy Bitmoji.]
Holiness is a concept I struggled with for most of my walk with God. I understood that holiness means being spiritually pure, but I had a hard time seeing myself as holy because … well, I’m not! I know where I have been, the things I have done, and the evil thoughts and motives I have had. So, you can imagine how impossible a verse like this seemed to me:
Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy’”. ~ Lev. 19:2
Um, not going to happen. I’m too sinful …. too selfish … too self-absorbed! And if I know I cannot do it, then why even bother trying?
I have had enough personal experience with God to know that nothing is impossible with Him. I also know that God is good, so He isn’t going to tell me to do something without equipping me to be able to do it … not on my own, of course, but as a joint venture with Him doing the heavy lifting. What he needs from me is obedience.
And then here’s where the topic of holiness really got confusing for me… I know that God is holy. I also know that Jesus is holy. I am painfully aware that I am not, but through Jesus, God sees me as holy. So, if Jesus’ sacrifice makes me holy before God, why should I strive for holiness since I know I’ll never achieve it and it’s not needed for me to live eternally with God? Paul did a good job of addressing this question in Romans 6, but I still had many questions. This series to share what I have learned thus far.
One of my biggest challenges was the hypocrites who do the right thing on the outside with the wrong heart on the inside. I have found that in many areas of my life, I was doing the right things for the wrong reasons, so what appeared as holy on the outside was rotten on the inside. As God has changed my heart, my motivation has changed, so while I might be doing the same things on the outside, what I experience on the inside is quite different.
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace with a halo. Courtesy Bitmoji.]