Written by Agnes Ibanda – Associate Pastor and Lecturer, Africa Nazarene University, Nairobi, Kenya
Blessed are the pure in heart/ the righteousness – they will see God. Mt. 5:8
This might be one of the answers some people give for the first time they meet someone calling them to a holy life. This answer might mean: “What will I gain from being holy? Or, what will happen to me after being holy?
It is real that some people fear being serious in their relationship with God. Such people feel comfortable in their sinful state and fear the unknown life that is in Christ Jesus. Such feeling seems normal to anyone before taking a new decision or being engaged in a new life situation.
Holiness is a concept which makes some hesitant to embrace, especially those who conceive that the Christian life is a miserable one, where people are always sad, they don’t have room to enjoy themselves, they are materially poor, or live as beggars, they don’t know what it means to enjoy life! What a misconception!
The Bible, the Word of God, the true living word, says:
– The righteous will live by faith. The simplest and most enjoyable life although it might look difficult to some people.
– “I’ve never seen a just person forsaken or his/ her children begging bread” (Ps. 37:25).
– You will receive life to the full (John 10:10).
– Whoever follows Jesus will receive a hundred times as much here on earth and inherit the eternal life (Mt 19:27-29).
– The world and everything that is in it belong to God (Ps 24:1).
– Blessed are the righteous because they will see God (Mt 5:8).
Holiness is beautiful and its beauty is what makes the life of a holy person more enjoyable and admirable by other peoples. The word makarioi translated by “blessed” or “happy” in the last verse shows the present mood or internal state of happiness or blessing. This word is used 50 times in the New Testament and shows how important it is. John Wesley (1944, 218) described the pure in heart/ the righteousness saying:
“The pure in heart” are they whose hearts God hath “purified even as He is pure”; who are purified through faith in the blood of Jesus, from every unholy affection; who, being “cleansed from all filthiness of flesh and spirit”, perfect holiness in the loving “fear of God.” They are, through the power of His grace, purified from pride, by the deepest poverty of spirit; from anger, from every unkind or turbulent passion, by meekness and gentleness; from every desire but to please and enjoy God, to know and love Him more, and more, by that hunger and thirst after righteousness which now engrosses their whole soul: so that now they love the Lord their God with all their heart, and with all their soul and mind and strength.”
This descibes well what it means to be holy or living a holy life. The second part of the verse does not talk about seeng God in the far future only, it also shows the present, as Ralph Earle (2012) in his sermon on “Preaching on Christian Perfection from Matthew” says: “Sin is what hinders us to see God, but once we choose to live a sinless life, we can see him all the time, day after day, in many ways. Of course we shall see him again at the end of the world in his glory.”
The following are some of the beautiful things that appear in the life of a holy person which make him/ her happy or blessed.
What then do we benefit from holy living?
Relationship harmony in our families: the problem of relationship in families, between husband and wife, children and parents, children and children, is real in many families: either Christian or non-Christian, rich or poor, interracial or mono-racial, interfaith or same faith, etc. The harmonious relationship can only be among people who choose to live by the Holy Spirit. An example, (given by Jill and Tim Geofrion), is of a lady who participated in their Spirit Led Leaders seminar in DRC. She used to get mad at her family members after they had left her outside the gate for a long time. This is in Goma where anything can happen to you when you are found outside the gate at late hours. This lady, being a leader in the church after a long time, was not able to discover the power of living a holy life. After being taught about the importance of following the Holy Spirit’s direction in our decision making, that lady went back home a changed person. And, when she reached the gate that day, she was no longer angry after being left outside in the evening, and in an insecure town. Her attitude changed her husband’s and children’s attitudes toward her. They became friendly to her, more so than they had ever been before. Proverbs 14:1 says that “the wise woman builds her house” and the foolish one destroys it with her own hands. For any broken or sick relationship in our families we can trust holiness as the perfect solution. When one chooses to listen and obey the Holy Spirit, she changes what she can not change with her own intelligence, knowledge or competence. The wisdom to keep and built a home comes in the fear of the Lord. Nahum 1:7 says that the Lord is good and cares for those who trust in him. As the husband and wife in a family choose to be transformed in Christ likeness, they get closer to each other, because they learn everyday to love each other with the agape love, which is the true godly love. They move from the selfish Eros love, from a destructive culture, to a Christian culture. They move from a selfish love to one that chooses to promote and consider the “other’s” interests before “my” interests. This holiness in our families definitely brings peace and harmony. It has been said that “the family that prays together, stays together.”
- Peace: Jesus Christ being the prince of peace (as prophesized in Isaiah 9:5) is able to establish eternal peace in our lives, our families and marriages. Real peace does not come from the possession of material things, cultural identity, religion, the number of children,But, real peace comes from the Prince of peace. This peace remains even when there is no money to clear the monthly bills, peace that persists even when there is more that enough money in the family, peace that does not leave during sickness or severe physical pain, peace that is not moved by political situation, peace in the middle of a war zone, peace in life and death. Ephesians 2:14 says that Christ is our peace. Having Christ, is having peace no matter what happens. The safest place we can ever get is in the Lord (Psalm 4:8).
- Joy and happiness: The joy and happiness that one feels in life is not compared to any other kind. This is the joy and the happiness that one feels while doing the will of God. Jesus said that there is more joy/blessing/happiness in giving than in receiving. Christians who have discovered this secret are ever happy. They are ready to help or give whenever they can because they know how good it is for the one helped and for themselves. Acts 14:17 says that it is God who fills our hearts with joy. No matter what kind of grief one might be experiencing, Jesus is ready to turn it into joy that no one can take away (John 16:22). In God’s presence there is joy and eternal pleasures (Psalm 16:11). Proverbs 12: 20 says there is joy for those who promote peace.
- Material wealth: Being with the Lord can give us everything we need, but this should not be the aim of following God. We should not consider God as the one who is the quick fixer or the one who gives us fast foods when we need his help and later forget about Him. Timothy Green & J. Wesley Furlong (1999, 23), say that there is a danger of considering God as a fastmedication or an ATM machine full of instant cash. Some preachers have reduced their ministries into business where they raise their money. Some give their M_PESA (Kenyan mobile banking system) number and ask people to send money if they need anything from God. Some have even a tariff for every need one would like to be prayed for. The Bible says that one should first seek God’s kingdom and his righteousness and all the other things will be given unto him/ her (Matthew 6:33). God is faithful and his word is true. There is no reason why those who have decided to spend their life in God would worry a lot about their life here on earth while God is in control. Prosperity is for those who fear the Lord (Psalm 128). He is the Lord of all the earth (Isaiah 54:5). The queen of Sheba while visiting Solomon was amazed with all the wealth God had given Him (1 Kings 10). If God was able to grant Solomon with all that wealth, how much can He give to those who have chosen to place their trust in Him and live according to His will! Proverbs 28:13-14 says that whoever confesses and renounces his/ her sins finds mercy, also blessed is the one who always fears the Lord. The favor of the Lord surrounds the righteous (Psalm 5:12). David’ testifies that in his life he had never seen the righteous forsaken or his/ her children begging bread” (Psalm 37:25). The entire Psalm 37 was written (according to The International Bible Commentary) in order to encourage the faithful to continue trusting God despite the apparent injustice of the world (581). The earth and everything in it, even all who live in it, are for the Lord (Psalm 24:1). In His pleasure, the Lord can grant to whomever He is pleased with whatever he/ she needs when He finds it necessary.
- Mental and physical wellbeing: Some of mental problems, like depression, are results of a hopeless situation that one might be going through. The walk with God is amazing because it gives us hope all the times. Even in a hard situation like the one David faced in front of Goliath (1 Samuel 17), it is possible to relax and have an internal peace that comes from the assurance that God is always there to help and strengthen us. The strongest coping mechanism that Christians have is that eternal hope in Jesus Christ, hope that can not be shaken by any event or situation. The Holy Spirit can even lead us in how to take good care of our bodies in order to avoid some diseases related to our lifestyles and sinful behaviors.
- Eternal life: This is the ultimate gift that holy people are waiting for. Here on earth we all struggle to have shelter. Many people measure their wealth in the number of houses they have built here on earth, but the Bible tells us that there is an eternal house in heaven that can not be destroyed, because it is build by God not human hands (2 Co 5:1). When one finds himself/ herself in a situation where he/ she has to leave everything that seems very important to him/ her for Jesus’ sake, as Jesus says in Matthew 19:29, that person will inherit eternal life, and will one day judge the twelve tribes of Israel with Him. What a privilege to follow Jesus Christ!
In this sermon, it has been said that holiness is the most beautiful experience one will ever have on this earth. “In spite of its enemies’ efforts to discredit it, and in spite of its friends who unwillingly misrepresent it” as Nelson S. Perdue (2011, 30) says, “Holiness is and will remain beautiful. Holiness is a beautiful experience because it
– brings back the harmony in families,
– gives peace of mind no matter what situation one can be in,
– assures us of the eternal life,
– gives the right to inherit everything that is God’s including material wealth.”
Choosing to live a holy life is choosing to live life to the full here on earth and most important to be heir of the Kingdom of God that is awaiting us, the eternal happiest life to come. There is nothing to lose in this life when we choose to live for Jesus sake. This message is to encourage those who have chosen to live a holy life no matter the cost. The Lord is our good Shepherd who is here to give us life in abundance, why should we want? He is at the same time the Shepherd and the host providing for us. We are invited to choose always Holiness.
– Holy Bible: New international Version
– Greek-English Interlinear New Testament
– Green, Timothy and Furlong, J. Wesley. So What Now?: Celebrating My Identity in Christ. (Kansas City, Missouri: Nazarene Publishing House), 1999.
– Perdue, S. Nelson. Holiness Horizons: a Purview of Sanctification. (www.holinesslegacy.com), 2011.
– F. F. Bruce. The International Bible Commentary with The New International Version. (Michigan, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1979).
– Mounce William D. Basics of Biblical Greek: Grammar. (Michigan, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1993).
– John Wesley. Sermons on Several Occasions, First series. (London: Epworth Press, 1944).
This testimony given by Jill Geofrion can be found on this link http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs069/1102349987774/archive/1109965546176.html