Brothers and Sisters,
I have, incredible though it seems, been writing these “thoughts for the week” for a year now and thought that I would do a short series on holiness. I will look at personal holiness this week, corporate holiness next week and social holiness the week after. (Then I’m going on leave for a week to recover!)

The meaning of the word holy is “set apart or consecrated to God” and personal holiness therefore means the idea that we set ourselves apart for God. It requires that we ask God to receive our lives as a gift for him to use as he will, and it is a returning to God that which he gives us by giving us free will.

We say that we recognise and are grateful for our free will, but we choose to use that free will to do the things that we believe God wants us to do so that as we read in 1 Peter 2:5: You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

The problem is that to do that really well, we would need to be aware every second of every day that this is the goal and dedicate every second of every day to God, and that is not an easy task. As we seek to put into place in our
lives patterns of prayer, Bible Study and attendance at worship, we are more able to stitch the reminder that this is what we have offered God into the fabric of our lives, but it takes these disciplines to remind us, and they themselves can fall by the wayside if we are not careful. Personal holiness requires a decision to go deeper in our discipleship, to leave the nets and the fishing behind us and follow Jesus.

As we watch the news trumpeting the contents of the so-called “Pandora papers” we see illegal behaviour, but legal behaviour that just feels unethical in the face of the great inequalities of the day. Personal holiness is about taking a decision, not because it is the law, but because it is the right thing to do. I have never forgotten my mother telling me of the time when, as a young nurse, she asked her father’s advice about joining her colleagues in strike action. He advised her that she should do what her conscience dictated, but that if her striking colleagues won extra pay or better conditions, she could not accept what others had fought for if she had remained at work herself.

Personal holiness is about taking the Jesus-road, even when that is a tough decision. May you be blessed in your seeking of that path this week.

God bless, Vicci

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