Key on a Bible

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There were no other options. When my family would shop for certain things, even if there were stores that were closer or even advertised a cheaper price, my folks would more than likely still patronize the place that they had for years. My grandfather kept the same mechanic for thirty plus years. My grandmother shopped at the same grocery stores, only bought fruit from the same fruit distributor, and had the same butcher for countless years. For most years, they only shopped at the same department stores. My mother would never think of using another hairstylist and my father would wait for hours for his barber to become available. With this loyalty, they never questioned the advice or wisdom of these professionals nor even second guessed their prices or service. Businesses long for employee loyalty as it used to be. With such a competitive market, employees will ‘milk’ the company for all that it can get until it is time to move on. The idea of working at a place for more than twenty years seems foreign to our most recent college graduates. Loyalty has changed. It is pretty safe to assume that the idea of loyalty has been redefined over the years.

When loyalty to something, somewhere, or someone changes, the standard of excellence shifts, mutual trust is evasive, and shared satisfaction deteriorates. And similarly, the same way that loyalty has shifted and become less long-term in business dealings, patronization, and exchanging of goods and services, our loyalty to God’s standard of holiness has shifted.

A few months ago, as I was a participant in a round-table discussion about culture and faith, I was asked to share my opinion of what God really means when he discusses holiness in scripture. The common thought among the group was that “holiness in the Bible isn’t practical in today’s society.” It is probably true that in some cases today as denominations arise, wayward teachings and expositions abound, that we are all cautioned not to believe every standard of holiness shared by others. Yet, as I left the group that night, I couldn’t help but be firmly convinced that God still desires us to pursue holiness, which is a righteous distinction from that which is normal or common among those uncommitted to Christ. Another way to say this is that our essence reflects Jesus Christ’s essence – cleansed from sin and maintaining God-like thinking. At the same time, I wrestled with gaining a clear understanding of how to pursue this biblical holiness. God’s Word clearly teaches us to:

1. Start with God. (1 Peter 2: 9) God’s holiness cannot be possible without a growing relationship with God. We must be called out of the darkness and into the light.

2. Meditate on God’s Mind (Philippians 4: 7; 2 Corinthians 10: 5), this is God’s Word. The more that we can filter every thought through God’s Word, the better able we are to direct our behaviors in the right way. Right behavior only comes from right thoughts.

3. Pursue humility. (James 4:6; 1 Corinthians 10: 12) Pride convinces us that there is nothing wrong with us and that there is no need to surrender to God’s plan. Humility acknowledges our helplessness without God and leans on him for sufficiency.

4. Stay with it! (2 Timothy 4: 1-22) God understands the reality of life and simply invites us to face each day with the mindset to stay loyal to His direction. When we stay loyal, the results of our loyalty are increased trust, clear expectations, and mutual satisfaction for us and for God.

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