TAKE TIME TO BE HOLY

IT TAKES TIME

Once there was a child who planted some seeds. It was his first time, and he was excited about what Daddy told him was going to happen. The seeds were going to sprout and grow--green leaves, flowers, fruit. Amazing! He was so anxious to see it, that an hour later he dug up his seeds to discover how they were doing. What a disappointment! Nothing. Not the slightest change. But of course we know these things do not happen in an hour. “Give it time,” we would advise the young gardener. Yet is it not surprising how little patience we can have? Or how little time we sometimes allow for important things?

All those labour saving devices that were supposed to give us more leisure, and we seem to be hurrying faster than ever. And in our haste and hustle there is a significant danger. Our priorities can become distorted. The more demanding some things are of large chunks of our lives, the more they seem to crowd other things out. Some years ago, an article was printed in a Christian paper entitled “The Tyranny of the Urgent.” And that is how it is, all too often. “Urgent” things can rule our lives, dictating how we use our precious hours and minutes, and pushing the truly important things out of the way.

William Longstaff (1822-1894) wrote a hymn about that. Longstaff was a Christian layman in England, and a great supporter of the work of Dwight L. Moody. He was also for a time an associate of William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army. Born into a wealthy family, he used his resources in various causes, helping others in many ways. On one occasion, Mr. Longstaff heard a sermon on First Peter 1:16, where the Lord says, “Be holy, for I am holy.” It impressed him deeply. After that, he set himself the goal of living a truly godly life. He wrote a hymn, in 1882, based on insights God was giving him. It reminds us to “Take Time to Be Holy.” The song says, “Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord; / Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word. / Make friends of God’s children; help those who are weak; / Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.”

As we all know, relationships do take time. That is true for husband and wife, for parents and children, and for friends. We talk about spending “quality time” with others--time to get to know them, time to share, time to help, time to listen. Relationships need nurturing, like tender plants. And the time we give them suggests what priority (or lack of priority!) we place on such things. So, how is your relationship with Jesus Christ? Practical holiness is almost an incidental result of our communion with the Lord. Not to say that no effort is required to do right. But it is in our fellowship with the Him that our desires and ambitions are turned toward heavenly things. In turn, it is from these fundamental attitudes that our daily choices and decisions come.

When Peter and John were hauled into court for preaching the gospel, their conduct and their speech revealed they had long been in the company of Christ. The Bible says the members of the Sanhedrin “realized that they had been with Jesus” (4:13). Is that true of us? The Apostle Paul says believers “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory” (II Cor. 3:18). In the words of Longstaff, “By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be; / Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.” So, when others observe our behaviour, or hear our conversation, will they realize we have been with Him? Or will our words and actions, our goals and priorities, betray just the opposite? Take time to be holy.