Is This too Much to Ask?
Is This too Much to Ask?
In my last post, we talked about the fact that God has called us to be holy. (You can check out that post - Called to be Holy.) Yes, I said holy. Holy is only 4 letters long, but it is a really BIG and intimidating word. While there are many adjectives I would use to describe myself, the word ‘holy’ is not one. I am much more comfortable with words like broken, damaged and flawed. Maybe because they give me an excuse – justification to be anything other than what God has called me to be – holy. Is this too much to ask? Is it too much for God to ask us to be holy? In Romans 12:1 (TLB) Paul says,
“And so, dear brothers, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living sacrifice, holy—the kind He can accept. When you think of what He has done for you, is this too much to ask?”
Just like a bright, neon flashing light, “is this too much to ask” stands out, doesn’t it? Is this too much to ask? Well, when you look at it from that perspective - of course not! After all that Jesus has done; all He endured; and after giving His own life for mine – is this too much to ask? What if Jesus Himself were sitting across the table from me, looked at me with his piercing, love-filled eyes and said, “So, Pam, you are called to be Holy – to present yourself a living sacrifice – to become more and more like Me. Sweet child, is this too much to ask of you?” I would adamantly answer “No! No! No, Jesus – Savior of my soul – my hope, my best friend…no, Jesus – my shield, my strength, my sword…no, Jesus – King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the One true Messiah…it is NOT too much to ask – it is the least I can do because of all you have done for me.” What would you say? (Pause and answer. What would you say if Jesus asked you if being holy was too much to ask of you?)
You know… the truth is I desire to be holy. I desire to please my Savior! But, the reality is it is much easier to say than it is to do. So, what if we dig a little deeper into this expectation of holiness and get a better understanding of some steps we can take. Let’s start by looking at what Paul said next. In verse 2 of Roman 12 (TLB), he went on to say,
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how His ways will really satisfy you.”
So, we are not to copy everyone else – conform; but instead we are to allow the transformation only the Holy Spirit can bring about to take place and make us new and different from the world. We are to stand out. We are to pursue holiness or to strive to be pure in our conduct. What does that look like? We should exhibit the fruits of the Spirt. (Galatians 5:22-23) They are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This calling to be Holy does not mean that we should be perfect – but we are to grow to be more and more like Christ who was perfect. Let’s take some steps in that direction.
Step 1. Less of me – more of Him.
We have an adversary and he does not want us to be holy. He wants us to be selfish – and we are. We start our sentences with I think, I want and I feel. We see everything through our perspective and how it affects us. We dwell on our hurts and on our desires. We are filled up with our selfish desires – but we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit instead. In Philippians 4:6-8 (TLB), Paul writes…
“Always be full of joy in the Lord; I say it again, rejoice! Let everyone see that you are unselfish and considerate in all you do. Remember that the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus. And now, brothers, as I close this letter, let me say this one more thing: Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.”
Step 2. Learn to love others the way Jesus loves them – unconditionally.
This is a big order to fill. Jesus loves unconditionally (Romans 5:8), sacrificially (2 Corinthians 5:21), always forgiving (Ephesians 4:32) and with love everlasting (Romans 8:38-39). We do not have to earn it. We do not deserve it. So, we are to love everyone that God brings into our lives with that same kind of love. We are to love those who have not earned our love and even those who we can proclaim do not deserve it. Reality is – we can all be unloving at times – but let’s just love and forgive and accept each other anyway. In John 13:34-35, Jesus says,
“And so I am giving a new commandment to you now—love each other just as much as I love you.Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Okay, friends. We can do this! This is not too much to ask – it is the least that we can do.