How are you supposed to be holy when you wake up grumpy?
If I had to describe myself when I wake up in the morning, holy is not the first word that pops into my mind. Tired, yes. Holy, no.
Some mornings I wake up grumpy. I don’t want to face the day. I wake up overwhelmed.
So, what now?
So, holiness is not a matter of attaining perfection, but of mimicking. We want to follow Christ’s example, because we want to be like Him. And, holiness is not about feelings, but about direction. We are purposefully choosing to walk as He commands. Obedience. Choosing the right path.
Here’s what that looks like in real life:
You wake up exhausted. Instantly, thoughts flood into your mind: problems, worries, what-ifs.
You breathe a prayer for help: “Lord, this day, all of it is yours. You are ruler of my life. Help me to follow You.”
You have two choices: you can feed on the negative thoughts, or you can choose to feed on what’s true, honest, just, pure, lovely. You can choose to praise God with your heart, soul, and mind.
Holiness is about making excellent choices.
The phone rings and you’re greeted with that problem person (Love your Nellie Olsen!) and her stinky remark. You have another choice. You can use this person’s sin as an excuse to sin yourself and retaliate in kind, or you can choose a higher road. You decide to overlook the lousy attitude and treat this hurting person with care and kindness.
The kids wake up and didn’t seem to get the “holiness” memo either. They’re bickering and grumpy, and general selfishness seems to reign supreme. You could react in kind, with snarky remarks, put-downs, or threats, or you could see things with eternal perspective, encouraging them to follow you while you follow Christ and His commands, helping them see where they’ve fallen short of God’s code of ethics for loving others well.
The list of scenarios could go on and on, but you get the picture. Holiness is about obedience and not necessarily about feelings.
Some quick tips for pursuing holiness:
1. Take time to be holy. It’s a song, I know, but the truths are spot-on. The more time you spend communing with God through prayer and Bible reading, the more transformed your mind will become in your desire to pursue holiness. Cut out needless distractions to make time for the Lord. Then, go out and serve people in a way that points all the glory back to Him.
2. Don’t make excuses for your sin. Call it what it is and agree with God. Make it right with the person you’ve offended. If you don’t own up to your own sin, you won’t put it off or make progress in holiness. (Confess, find forgiveness, move upward.)
3. Listen to your heart. And I don’t mean in the sense that you’re following it. Listen to what you say to yourself when you are alone with your thoughts. Where does the needle of your internal compass land, when you have a free moment? If it’s on problems, then you’ve got to recalibrate. If it’s on bitter or unloving thoughts, you’ve got some forgiveness to do. If it’s on worry, take time to get to know your God. (You can only trust God to the extent that you know Him! The more you know His character, the greater your ability to trust Him!) Self-assess what’s going on in your own spiritual life.
4. Just do the next right thing. The flesh is not your friend, so whatever feels natural in the heat of the moment, don’t do it. Don’t tell that person off or give her a piece of your mind. Don’t give the cold shoulder and pretend they’re dead. Don’t yell at your kids. Don’t manipulate behind the scenes. Don’t gossip or slander. All of those sins feel good for a minute, but that’s it. They’re killing your spiritual life, your testimony, and your quest for holiness. It’s not worth it. Count the cost, and do the RIGHT thing. Take the higher road. When everyone around you is “seeking their own,” you love others enough to transfer that care that you once had for yourself to them. That’s God’s way. That’s what He did for you. Loved you when you were unlovely. We’re trying to be like Him.
5. Spend time with those who are pursuing holiness. You become like those you spend time with! Choose carefully. Look for women who are trying to respect God’s word. Spend your “free” time with women who are confident in their identity in Christ, who give and receive encouragement, who are transparent about what they are learning and how they are growing, who will challenge you to be a better person and who talk about others in a positive way, when they are not around. (Of course, there are several types of friends, and we all spend time with a variety of people, but when you have a choice, choose the person who’s walking the same direction as you are!)
What about you? What are you doing to pursue holiness? What would you add to this list?