By Jeffrey Holder, Content Editor, Bible Studies for Life: Senior Adults
As we began our latest session in Bible Studies for Life, we were asked to consider this question: What are some things the average person considers holy or sacred? I imagine a lot of people would not put Christians on their lists. Of course, the phrase “holier than thou” usually comes up in such discussions. It’s always used in a negative way to describe a person who is judgmental and arrogant. God does not call us to be “holier than thou” in that sense, but He does call us to live holy lives—lives that are set apart for Him.
In this session from 1 Peter, we are encouraged to “be holy in all our conduct” (1:15). Note the word all in that verse. That word makes me pause and do a lot of self-examination. At the end of the day, will I be brave enough to ask myself: “Jeff, was all of your conduct today holy? Would you describe all of your thoughts and actions and inactions as set apart for God and His purposes in the world?” I fear the answers will be rather humbling.
Maybe you could try asking yourself those questions at the end of the day. Will we be perfect? No. Not on this side of heaven. God is the one who began this good work of holiness in our lives, and He will complete it (Phil. 1:6). Yet, it is our responsibility to respond obediently to this wonderful grace He has given us, trusting Him to work out this set-apartness for the purpose of drawing people to Christ and His kingdom.
Another part of this session that hit me hard was in 1 Peter 1:22: “love one another earnestly from a pure heart.” Jesus said the world would know His disciples because of their love for one another (John 13:35). Why do we fail so often at this? Most likely it’s because relationships can get messy sometimes. Too many times we surrender to that old, impure heart that called the shots for us in those days before Jesus saved us. The author of our study made three great points:
- A pure heart does not love for the purpose of getting something in return.
- A pure heart also does not love only those who think in the same way.
- A pure heart is not the heart of “nearsighted” Christians who serve only themselves.
This is the kind of love Jesus has for us. This set-apart, holy, Christ-centered love will definitely set us apart from the self-centeredness in the world around us. In the power of the Holy Spirit, each of us who call ourselves “Christian” is called upon to “be holy in all [our] conduct,” because “the One who called [us] is holy” (1 Pet. 1:15).
When Jesus was questioned about which commandment was the greatest, He said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'” (Matt. 22:37). Are we living lives set apart for God? When we are, our thoughts, attitudes, and actions will reflect our love for God and our neighbors.