Set Apart

I’ve often said, rather tongue-in-cheek, that “I was a lot more holy person before I married and had children.”  The truth is that as a single woman I was jealous, frustrated, selfish, and quick to react, but I just didn’t have the stimulus to bring all of that out of me like I find in this phase of life.  Sometimes I miss the days when I could be upset and just withdraw and spend time with the Lord and work it out before I faced anyone.  Now, it’s in the car with four children trying to get somewhere, or accomplish something, usually with a deadline that I have to confront my impatience, frustrations and anger.  I don’t always handle it well.

When you think of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, how do you picture her?  For most who answer this question the description is something like this:  “A pure virgin, holy unto the Lord holding the Son of God in her arms with a halo over her head”.  She is the epitome of righteousness and the highest aspiration of most women.  What if we moved on in the life of Mary?  You know, to the part where she consummated her marriage to Joseph, bore more children, became a mother with stretch marks and possibly uneven breasts?  What about when she journeyed through menopause, and then into grand-motherhood?  Has she fallen from the category of “holy” when you change the picture?

What about baby Jesus?  He is pure, holy, innocent flesh and blood in the arms of his holy Mother, who grows into puberty, develops body hair, body odor, and becomes a man with a trade in carpentry.  Does He seem as holy with this occupation and the awkwardness of teenage development?  Often we reserve the idea of His holiness for the manger scene and then again from the years 30-33 of His ministry.

Why am I asking these questions? you might wonder.  The Bible teaches that holiness is an attribute and devotion of our lives and character when we “set apart” our lives for the worship and obedience to God.  Because we say we love God and serve Him, we live our lives different than the world with a new set of desires.  Holiness is not a state an occupation or stage of life, neither is it a ladder to be climbed with some occupations or situations of life being more holy than another.  Holiness is a lifestyle of someone set apart for God.  One who applies what God has taught them in their bodies, minds, and spirit.  Holiness is a state of being bestowed on us by the blood of Jesus that washed us, made us pure before the Lord and gave us the right and privilege to call God our Father.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

1 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

 3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

God Himself has also made us holy through the blood of His Son Jesus.

2 Timothy 1:9-10

New International Version (NIV)

9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Colossians 1:21-23

New International Version (NIV)

 21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Colossians 3:16-18

New International Version (NIV)

16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

All of our life is holy unto God.  When we are washing carpets, it is holy.  When we are changing tires, it is holy.  When we are growing into adulthood our lives are holy.  When we hold our grandchildren, it is holy.  Holiness is in the servant teaching Sunday school, and the family enjoying each other on a vacation.  Holiness is in being single and holiness is in marriage.  God has set us apart, made us holy and gave us the power of the Holy Spirit to work into our minds, wills, emotions, and bodies godly ways to live.

So when I lose my temper in the car, impatient with my children, I apologize, I ask for forgiveness and this is a holy moment.  When I am leading worship for a crowd of a thousand people it is holy.  When I pray for the hurting it is holy.  When I am taking garbage to the dump, or unplugging the toilet, these things are also holy when I apply God’s Word to my life and “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Oh, and what about Mary?  You know, the mother of Jesus?  Her life is recorded in the scriptures as a godly woman.  She is mentioned as part of the multitude of people in the Upper Room in the book of Acts, praying, and receiving the Holy Spirit as was promised by her son and Savior Jesus.  Her life as a wife to Joseph and mother to many sons? Holy.