Last week, in Part 1 of this article, we learned about the foolishness of imagining that we can divorce our spiritual life from influencing every single thing that we do or say. In other words, we cannot categorize it into a “religious box,” as if it had nothing to do with our “everyday life.” Surely it is not right for a son or daughter of God to live as if their spiritual life was only meant to be exercised and practiced on Sundays only! Holiness ought to be manifested as much in the kitchen, the office, or the workshop, as in the Church.
Today, in Part 2, we will continue to see how the life of God in the soul must have an effect upon everything in our lives – particularly those things that we would label as pleasurable, enjoyable, and beautiful.
“In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, Holiness unto the Lord; and the pots in the Lord’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar” (Zechariah 14:20).
As for anything and everything that is pleasurable in life, which may lawfully be enjoyed – we may appreciate these things and partake in them with a good conscience, if they are consecrated to Christ. For example, the ancient Jews were forbidden to own horses, because – to their minds – they were associated with the pride and pomp of kings; they were a symbol of trusting in an arm of flesh. Therefore, they were prohibited. “Some trust in chariots,” said the Psalmist, “and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” But now, in Zechariah’s prophetic foresight, the horses are particularly accepted and acknowledged. “Holiness unto the Lord” will now be engraved upon the horses’ bells that make sweet music as they move. The horses which might not be used to feed fleshly pride and carnal confidence are now spoken of as being holy to the Lord – as holy, in fact, as the sacred bowls of the altar. In the Middle Ages, multitudes of souls endeavored to pursue a life of holiness; and for that reason, they dreaded to enter the sacred relationships of home life, and thought that the prattle of children and the love of a wife were opposed to their higher spiritual interests. But they sadly forgot that Christ sat at Cana’s wedding-feast; they failed to understand that nothing included in God’s original creation could be polluted and unclean. It is a more excellent and Christ-like way to engage in these lawful pleasures of life – with the resolution that even upon these most intimate relationships, “Holiness unto the Lord” should be inscribed.
Pleasant things are not necessarily wrong.
This principle may be applied to every aspect of our lives. It is not wrong to engage in pleasant pastimes – as long as you can write on tennis ball and piano, on oar and paddle, and on skate or sleigh, the words of the high priest’s headdress: “Holiness unto the Lord!” Whatever you cannot pray over, refuse to touch. But if you can make it a matter of prayer and consecration, then it may be enjoyed with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer. This is applicable to the enjoyment of nature, art, music, and all beautiful objects – whether sculptured, photographed, or painted. True holiness does not consist in bare walls, hard chairs, and a dingy environment. Rather, it resembles God’s lovely work in nature, which is exquisitely beautiful – whether it is the leaves that change to crimson in the autumn, or the moss upon the rocks, or the thickly carpeted floors of the woodlands, or the silver features of the stars. You may use and enjoy the “horses” in your life; only see to it that the memory of “Holiness unto the Lord” is written over them!
We must remember, however, that holy things must not be despised.
But we must remember that just because the common vessels of everyday use and enjoyment are regarded as being holy to the Lord, this does not mean that the particularly sacred bowls of the altar are to be ejected from their sacred office there (Zech. 14:20, 21). Although our lawful employments and enjoyments are indeed “holiness unto the Lord,” it does not mean that the holy place of the sanctuary may be abolished or disregarded. It only means that our Christianity is not confined to the four walls of the church building, and that it ought to be manifested equally outside the church as well as inside it. There is indeed a necessity for us to set apart special hours and days for the Lord; for we cannot carry the spirit of pure and undefiled religion among our fellows during our weekly business and recreation, unless we regularly enter into our closet and shut the door and pray unto our Father in secret. We cannot do all of our activities for the glory of God, unless we have mountains of transfiguring prayer. We cannot read all books and papers in a religious spirit, unless we are loving and systematic Bible-students. We cannot use ordinary vessels as though they were the bowls of the altar, unless we actually handle the real bowls of that sacred altar.
Let us hear the call of the Lord!
Many bells ring in our lives, clamoring to get our attention. The morning alarm clock, the school-bell, the work-bell, the shop-bell, the doorbell on one side of our entryways, the wedding bells with their merry peal, the funeral bells with their sorrowful monotone, the bicyclist’s bell warning the pedestrian on the pavement, and the bells on the sleigh-horses as they draw the vehicle over the frozen snow – to many of these bells, in times past, we have given a lethargic and listless response. We have resented their intrusion on our slumbers and plans; we have chafed against their peremptory summons. But enough of this! Henceforth, let us hear these chimes as the call of the Lord to the tasks which He summons us! Let us obey with alacrity, looking to Him for grace and strength to do whatever He would have us do; and no matter what activity we may find ourselves engaged in, let us pray that this inscription may be engraved upon it: “Holiness unto the Lord.”
God bless you and your family, this day and always.
All for the King’s glory,
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