For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer.
The beauty of some thing is often elevated by the ugliness of its surroundings. I am reminded of this truth when I am in the company of my wife. This is evident in the game of golf as well. My game is beautiful when it’s compared side to side with someone who has never picked up a club. However, a scratch golfer looks like a Tour professional when I am in his or her group. A person’s actions can either elevate or deprecate the behavior of those within his or her company. Christ desires us to be an “elevator.”
If there is a positive of sinful behavior, it is that it makes the Christian want to grow closer in his or her walk with Christ when in its midst. Thomas Edison in his book “All Things For Good” wrote that black shade of sin “sets off the beauty of holiness so much the more.” When sin is only surrounded by sin, it is camouflaged or cloaked as being acceptable or normal. Amateur athletes would never know how deficit their games really are until they see a professional perform the craft in person. The disparity between the amateur level and someone who gets a paycheck for playing a sport is “other worldly.”
The same is true with worldly Christians. Until we get a taste of true holiness and earnest worship, we feel as if we have it all figured out. We should strive to set a high bar for Christian living. Often times, it is easier to see what it isn’t rather than actually living what it is. We must be weary of allowing this perception to become more judgment than a reality. The words of Jesus in Luke 18:11 give us an example of the judgmental attitude to avoid. He said, “the Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.” In verse 13, however, the publican spoke from the heart and of himself. It is written that he “smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” We see in verse 14 that Jesus exalted the man who humbled himself. We can’t become so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good. Our goal is to be a reflection of Christ so that others can see that difference and disparity between sin and holiness. We don’t have to relay that fact to the sinner. It should be readily apparent.
Augustine wrote, “God would never permit evil, if he could not bring good out of evil.” The holiness of God, the perfectness of Christ, and the Holy Spirit’s conviction brings about the desire for change within a person’s soul. We are taught in Proverbs 27:17 that,”Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” We don’t desire anything better, unless better is evident. Let us desire to bring out in the best in those around us.
Seeing our friends and family falling ill to the corruption of sin should lead us to pray that much harder and more frequent for a change in their spiritual state. We can recognize the symptoms of sin, just as we know when we are getting physically sick. Illness usually doesn’t “hit” all at once, but the symptoms arise little by little. Similarly, righteousness doesn’t happen over night either. We are justified at the moment of salvation, but righteousness is a lifelong processes. It isn’t about a denomination or a political party. It isn’t whether we are for or against impeachment. It isn’t whether we are for or against stricter gun laws either. It is a heart thing and a God thing. Let us pray each today to be less attached to the world and more connected to Christ. In today’s world, it doesn’t take a lot to “set off the beauty of holiness.”