“You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart … to be my own.”
Have you ever tried to define the word holy? Most people have an idea that this word tells us something about God. If you look up the word holy in a dictionary, you will find other words like sacred, divine, and righteous in the definition, but that doesn’t make the meaning much clearer.
Whatever we imagine when we hear the word “holy,” we are probably not bold enough to proclaim that we consider ourselves holy. We know our own flaws and pettiness too well to try to argue that holiness is a description of ourselves.
If we look at holiness as a requirement for being with God, it can seem overwhelming and unattainable. But if we read God’s message in this passage, we find that holiness is not so much a requirement but the final goal. God had already delivered his people (from slavery—see Exodus 1-15) and had called them apart to give them a great inheritance. To be holy actually means to be “set apart to God.” This doesn’t mean separating from other people but becoming dedicated to God to serve him in this world.
God’s call to holiness tells us that when we follow Christ, our lives will be changed. The habits and patterns we develop in order to honor him are not mere tokens that we add to our daily routines, but practices that will work to transform us. God loves us, and he wants to transform our lives to make us holy.
Father, give me strength to become holy. Guide my steps so that I may become what you intend me to be. Amen.
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