Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Test of “Moral Holiness”

I have found that people often hate the term “holiness” as if it’s referring to someone who’s ‘holier the thou,’ which everyone knows is steeped in the worst hypocrisy. Even Christians hate being tagged as ‘holy’ because they think how the world thinks of them i.e. ‘they think they’re above us,’ i.e. superior to them. But that’s not true moral holiness.

The word “holy” does mean ‘set apart’ or words to that effect, but not in status, only in action. And action is contingent on the present. In other words we can only act in moral holiness by what we do. We have to maintain it. Our characters are defined, morally, in this way. As in sport, we’re only as good as our last game.

A simple test of moral holiness is simply demonstrating ‘this is what it looks like.’ It must be definable, visible, observable. The Christian’s job is to ensure holiness speaks via their actions. If our actions are truly holy we “define God to the world [i.e. they see him through us] and help the world find God,” for we too were once without God, and we saw him through what others, displaying holiness, did.[1]

I don’t know about you but I hate the thought of being seen as a self-righteous hypocrite. The fact is when we’re acting in holy ways we’re the absolute direct opposite of this ‘self-righteous’ image. Nothing could be further from ignorant and arrogant pride than holiness.

But it’s such an old-fashioned word in any event, “holiness.” It is grossly unfortunate that we tire of ‘old-fashioned’ things in our society, in this generation.

Plainly, our acts of kindness, respect, trust, love and faithfulness (amongst a plethora of other virtues) are what defines God to the world and helps the world find God. Only acts can be holy, not people. People are sinful, but the resurrection power of God through Jesus Christ is sufficient to raise people morally, giving them the want to love, be kind, respectful and faithful.

So, when we give our seat up for the elderly and disabled, or talk to people respectfully even if they’re rude to us, or when we honour names, and when we hone our manners (even though these too are apparently ‘old-fashioned’) in all sorts of ways, we’re saying to the world, ‘This is what holiness i.e. Godliness, looks like.’

It is incumbent on us to do this all the time, to the joy of God and to the pleasure of all others who must surely benefit. The Christian can never be characterised consistently by poor relationships, for “affection covers all that do not love strife” (Proverbs 10:12b LXX). This is manifest moral holiness.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

[1] Garry & Anne Marie Ezzo, Let the Children Come… Along the Virtuous Way, Growing Kids God’s Way (Happy Valley, South Australia: Growing Families Australia, 2002), p. 106.

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