The title I’ve given today’s devotional – HOLY IS NOT A FOUR LETTER WORD – may bear some explanation to friends joining us from outside the United States.
So let me begin by letting you know that, for whatever reason, most of the curse words in the English language all have four letters. It’s almost as if you can’t be offensive with more than one vowel. As a result, there’s an idiom in English that equates the phrase “four letter word” with something nasty and offensive.
Now certainly there are lots of truly wonderful words in English that have four letters. LOVE only has four letters, as do HOLD, SAVE and GIVE.
But the idiom holds. And, in English anyway, when you mention the phrase “four-letter word” you bring up a pretty specific concept; and it’s not good.
Our verse today reminds us that GOD SAVED US AND CALLED US TO LIVE A HOLY LIFE
This morning, as we consider that verse together, I thought I’d like to use a few other four letter words.
Sometimes people feel like they have to WORK their way into heaven. They try to be good, but can’t. Let’s face it, no one can. With each failure and fall the burden of guilt increases, and we end up feeling like there’s no hope. But HOPE, of course, is a four letter word, too. Christ has given us hope as we place our faith in Him. Our faith in Christ takes the assurance of heaven – that which we hope for – and turns it into a certainty. So deep within our hearts we possess something we do not yet see.
That’s another four letter word. Some folks have quit trying. They just don’t care, which is yet another four letter word. When you don’t care, you lose hope; then you give up. These people go through life and try to find ways to fill the hole in their heart that makes them feel so empty. Some of the ways they try seem acceptable — accumulation of massive wealth, development of incredible skill and such. But expensive toys and accolades only make you happy for so long. FAME is another four letter word, but as many A-list celebrities will tell you, fame fades and leaves a dusty taste in your heart. That’s when the not-so-acceptable ways get tried so often. Sex, drugs, alcohol and the like. The folks who’ve tried that route and survived will tell you what a dead end that road is.
Some people quit life by hiding behind walls, either physical or emotional. They walk through a painful existence and only connect on the surface of every relationship, with smiles and banter intended to hold people at a distance and hide their pain. Others live their lives in virtual worlds online where they can create a life of their own choosing, running faster, jumping higher and fighting better than everyone else.
But GOD SAVED US AND CALLED US TO LIVE A HOLY LIFE
That four letter word was the core of it. God so loved us that He GAVE His one and only Son. An incredible GIFT. Yup, that’s another one. As it turns out, Jesus is the only one who is able to truly get that dusty taste out of our hearts. It’s almost like we all have a Jesus-shaped hole in our lives, and the reason we feel empty is because only He can fill it. None of the other things I’ve mentioned will satisfy that thirst.
The gift He gave is free, if you want it. That’s a great four letter word. Free, of course, only means free to the recipient; not to the giver. When you’re shopping for a gift, you can’t just walk out of the store without paying for it. Someone always has to pay the price for a gift. The gift Jesus gives was expensive, it cost Him His life.
Once we receive His free gift, we get filled with LOVE. His love satisfies. It carries us deeper and deeper into a relationship with Him. His love fills us in ways none of the things that left us empty ever could. In fact, He fills us to overflowing. As Jesus and you get closer and closer, He just sort of comes bubbling out and spilling over into other relationships in your life. They see the joy He brings, and many of them will come to desire Him, too.
There’s a word for a life that’s filled with Jesus, a life that is centered around love. It’s called HOLY. A holy life is powered by His love, and so the fruit of His love keeps growing inside until it is seen on the outside. Not only love, but also joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. All of those things are found in a life that is holy.
Those things bring us strength when life gets hard. Those things fill our life with pleasure when life is easy. When our lives are filled with them, they bring balance and strength. But most of all, they allow us to draw closer to Him, and that’s truly the best part of it all. Closer than the closest earthly friend, Christ dwells within and never leaves you alone. Ever.
A holy life is filled with His grace and strength. When the tidal waves of life hit your shores, holiness holds you firmly to Him.
There’s an old hymn that says
When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil
The veil the hymn speaks about is the veil within the temple that used to separate the Holy of Holies from just about everyone. Even the High Priest could only enter that super-sacred place once a year. But when Christ paid for our sins on the cross, God actually tore that veil in half!!! It was ripped in two from top to bottom, and the way into the Holy of Holies was opened to everyone by the sacrifice of Jesus. He opened the way to the power and presence that makes us HOLY.
Christ alone opens up the closeness of God’s presence in our lives; the power of His Holy Spirit within.
Him inside of us is what makes life worthwhile.
HOLY is the word that you want to describe YOUR LIFE.
Hmmm …. YOUR and LIFE are both four letter words, too.
What a coincidence!
YOUR LIFE – make it HOLY. You’re going to love it!
GOD SAVED US AND CALLED US TO LIVE A HOLY LIFE