“Holiness is what I long for; holiness is what I need; holiness is what You ask of me.”

Nice song. Nice words. Now it’s time to sit down and listen to the pastor’s teaching.

Wait a minute! We just sang “Holiness is what I long for?” Did we mean it? Did I mean it when I sang that I longed for holiness? Did you?

The Random House College Dictionary defines “long” as “to have an earnest or strong desire; yearn.” Nothing unexpected there; but I wonder if I water down the word in my mind when I sing that song.

Think about the concept with me. What things do you long for? There are days when I just long for them to be over. I long for some of the hopes and dreams I have for my life to come to pass. I long for my mother to be restored to health. Perhaps even more than the longing for her to be restored to health is the longing for her be able to meet God where she is. Sometimes I long for a cold glass of water or a hot cup of tea. Sometimes I long for God to comfort me or encourage me. I’m not sure all of my longings show me to be the Godly woman I want to be, but I’m pretty sure they show me to be fallible and human.

But do I long to become holy? Frequently, I’m afraid, I do not. Frequently I find, that I’d rather be mediocre in my holiness. You know, the “I’m not as good as some, but better than most” attitude. Hmmmm. Sounds like I’ve heard a sermon or two on this subject…something about the degree of pharisee that exists in me. I hate it when I get hit with old sermons!

I’m also reminded of the Mary and Martha story, where Jesus said to Martha “Mary has chosen what is better” (Luke 10:42). Do I choose what is better or do I choose what is easy. A longing for holiness would lead me to choose the better part.

Let’s see:

  • Sleep or devotions? Devotions is the better part; I frequently choose sleep.
  • TV or extended prayer time? Chilling out in front of the TV can be pretty attractive, but prayer is the better part.
  • Relaxing in my chair after a hard day of work or participating in a small group Bible study? The small group Bible study holds significantly more opportunity for God to speak to me and to use me and others in the group to minister to the needs of a friend.
  • Joining in a pick-up game of volleyball in the park or helping my neighbor paint her garage? The neighbor needs to know Jesus, but the volleyball game sure would be fun. And I haven’t played volleyball in so long. The neighbor needs to know Jesus; that’s the better part.

The list could go on, but you get the idea. The question is “does my lifestyle illustrate or demonstrate that I mean the words I sing ‘Holiness is what I long for’?” It is not my desire to strengthen your sense of legalism, because “the letter [of the law] kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Cor 3:6). You don’t need me to develop your list of “ought to’s”. There will be times when God says, “yes, you should sleep longer today,” or “yes, I want to meet with just you this evening, so stay home from church or Bible study”. The issue is your lifestyle. Which choices do you usually make? I find that more often than I’d like to admit, my choices reveal that I don’t really long for holiness, I’m pretty happy where I am.

But I don’t want to be that person. We’re studying The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer with a small group. Great book. Lots and lots about why we don’t apprehend the God who longs to meet us face to face. And a lot of it comes down to being satisfied with mediocre.

Lord, remove mediocrity from my life! I don’t want it. Let Christ reign over any tendency toward mediocrity in my life.

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