Chapter one of A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life begins by defining what a holy and devout life looks life. I sum that definition up this way: a holy or devout life is to be given over and surrendered to another’s will or desire. For the Christian that “another” is Jesus Christ. That means that He has the right to say what we can and cannot do with our time, money, pursuits, and everything in-between. There is no part of our life that Jesus cannot claim because He bought us with His own blood and for His glory.
William Law makes the argument that simply living a holy life when we are pursuing spiritual disciplines does not equal living a holy life that is acceptable before God. Rather, as Christians, our lives should be consistent and holy in all areas of our observable daily conduct.
Here is where it becomes difficult and we must be humble when evaluating our lives. Are we using our time for the same entertainments that the world spends their time on (social media, Netflix, sports, health, family, etc.)? Are we using and pursuing the same ends for our money as the world is using theirs on (retirement, insurance, college funds, etc.)? Do we invest in the same type of jokes and conversations that those who do not follow Christ spend engaged in? Law says this, “For the whole tenor of Scripture lies as directly against such a life [that pursues what the world pursues], as against debauchery and intemperance…” In other words, what we pursue with our time, money, and friendships should be markedly different than how the world uses their time, money, and conversations. Law observes, “For to be weak and foolish in spending our time and fortune, is no greater a mistake, than to be weak and foolish in relation to our prayers.” The Christian life is a wholistic life that pursues holiness and godliness in all areas.
I have had to wrestle with some of the implications from these opening remarks by Law. Should I be as invested in my kids’ college fund as helping the poor in my neighborhood? Is how much time I spend on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, other social media platforms consistent with a Christian pursuing holiness? Is my phone helping me love God and others more or less? Does the sports world need another devoted follower?
In the words of John Piper, “Don’t just ask, ‘What’s wrong with it?’ That’s about the lowest question you can ask in life… Ask, ‘Does it help me run!’” That is the question that is begged by Law as he shows that Christian’s daily lives should be observably different Monday through Saturday and not just on Sunday morning. Our conversations should be different, and our money and time spent on things that will foster holiness.
This is only chapter one and already my world of comfort and ease with how I live is being called into question. Below are some questions that may help you as you think through the pursuit of holiness.
Buy the Book:
Define a holy and devote life in your own words.
Do you agree with Law that to show that we are Christians is to renounce everything that is foolish and vain in our common life? Why or why not?
What areas do American Christians use their time in an unholy way that they may not be aware of?
What areas do American Christians use their money in an unholy way that they may not be aware of?
Why is the pursuit of holiness lacking in the American church today?
What would help make the putting off of sin more appealing to you today?
What makes holiness worth the pursuit?