Holy, Holy, Holy: the Holiness of What We Do Every Day

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Holy, Holy, Holy . . . how do we understand such a vast word in the Bible as the word “holy”? It becomes a song of praise and awe in Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4. These grand texts use the word “holy” to honor God’s character and reigning power. And yet, the word is also used to refer to people like you and me.

When the Apostle Paul writes to the Romans, he calls those ordinary Christians “saints.” The Greek word is often translated as “holy.” But here Paul applies it to us (Romans 1:7)! Paul uses the word again when he explains what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. This time the English translation is sanctification. “But now that you have been freed from sin and become servants of God, the advantage you receive is sanctification” (Romans 6:22).

What does Paul mean by “the advantage we receive”? I believe it has to do with the word “holy” itself. “Holy” has to do with the presence of God. Only the presence of God is “holy,” so Paul shares this surprising news that as servants of Jesus Christ we are being drawn closer to Jesus himself and into his awesome, good presence. That is sanctification!

But how can this happen in practical terms? How can we dare to think of our work and our relationships as a high and holy calling? Do these acts need to be part of lofty and solemn religious practices to be called holy?

No, the “advantage” that Paul describes is the holiness of our entire lives. He means ordinary tasks, daily work, human relationships; these are being drawn into the presence of Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior. Paul is not describing religious ceremonies but the concrete daily life of a Christian that now has a holy imprint on it: helping our family to be happy and safe each evening after supper, staying faithful and joyous as a marriage partner, working hard at our trade maybe as a leather worker like Paul, or as a grocery clerk helping a young mother on food stamps find the best buys, or staying at our post like Luke, the physician, or as a student like Timothy, or an artist like Rembrandt van Rijn.

What an advantage we have when we bring the parts of our real lives into the good presence of Jesus Christ! This is what sanctification is all about. We can bring the hard parts of our lives too, where bad mistakes have caused damage to others and ourselves. We can claim the forgiving and healing presence of Christ for these parts of the whole too.

Sanctification has most of all to do with step-by-step growth in Christian character and maturity, because we have welcomed Christ’s Lordship and love into how we live and where we live so that as we grow in age we may grow in grace.