David was confused. His pastor had said we were to “be holy as God is holy,” but David wasn’t sure what he meant or even which word he meant: W-H-O-L-L-Y, H-O-L-Y, or H-O-L-E-Y. He was pretty sure it wasn’t that last one. That was like the old socks Mom made him throw out for their many holes.
When David looked up wholly in the dictionary, the definition talked about being full or complete. That could describe God. He is definitely complete; He doesn’t need anything. He created everything, so what would be left for Him to want?
* * *
Then David thought about the cover of his Bible: the Holy Bible. So what does holy mean? Back to the dictionary.
Aw, this must be it, he thought. It said, “. . . worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness.” Sounded like God, all right. Did not sound like David.
“It’s like, in what universe am I worthy of complete devotion, or perfect?” David wondered as he sat on the front porch talking to Skippy, his chocolate lab. He thought about the times he tried to be good — tried his hardest — but something would happen to mess it up. He’d get angry or do something that upset others, like not turning in his homework or telling his friend, Jason, he’d come over after school (forgetting he’d promised Dad he would mow the lawn).
Nope, David thought, I am
nowhere near perfect, so I can’t be holy like God. Skippy just looked at him with those adoring eyes, making David think he could do nothing wrong in the eyes of his four-legged friend. Even if he forgot to feed him, Skippy was still there, loving him completely. I wonder if there’s a lesson there, David thought, considering how Skippy loved him unconditionally.
David’s mom and dad also loved him unconditionally, although they got upset when he messed up. His dad always said that you have to work hard to accomplish anything in life. Maybe he needed to work harder at being holy.
* * *
Mom came out to the porch to see why David had been sitting so quietly. As he shared his thoughts, she smiled. “This is one time that hard work won’t help. Let’s look at some Bible verses. We’ll start with Ephesians 2:8, 9: ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.’ So your salvation comes only as a gift of God. You can’t work hard enough to be holy.”
“But,” David protested, “I want to be holy so God will love me.”
Mom smiled. “It doesn’t work that way. Holiness is not the way to God. God is the way to holiness.” She continued, “Remember John 3:16? You memorized that one last year. ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life’ (NASB). He has already shown how much He loves you.”
“So,” David said slowly. “I can’t earn my way to God by being good?”
“No, when you accept the sacrifice His Son made for you and give your heart completely to Him, then God’s Spirit will teach you about holiness and how to be more like Him.”
“Wow, thanks Mom!” David smiled. “That helps a lot. Now, one more question. Can I have some of those cookies I smell?”
Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version, except where noted.