The phrase “living a holy life” is commonly used in churches, but have you ever stopped to consider what it truly means? A dictionary definition says that being holy is being ‘devoted entirely to God or the work of God.’ On the surface, this seems like an impossible task: how are we, sinful humans, expected to devote our entire selves to God? It certainly is easier said than done. However, even though we won’t do this perfectly, the Bible says we must still strive towards it with commitment and earnestness. One of the ways this is achieved is through God’s own grace to us, because 2 Corinthians 9:8 says: ‘God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.’ (NIV)
The other way we can all strive towards living a holy life revealed in the New Testament is by building each other up. This concept entails supporting others in their walk with Christ and helping them grow in their faith, such as in Hebrews 10:24-25: ‘And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.’
So we see that to live a holy life, we must build up our fellow believers. This might look different for all of us: for some, it could involve reaching out to someone God has put on your heart and asking them about their weekend. Who knows: through this seemingly casual conversation, you may be able to establish a genuine connection with someone and potentially invite them to church the following Sunday. For others, it may mean leading by example, such as avoiding potentially sinful situations or actively attending church events.
On the other side, building someone up is also the opposite of tearing them down, as Paul warns against in Ephesians 4:29: ‘Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.’ (NLT)
Does this mean that the Bible is telling us that in order to build each other up we must tell the other person what they want to hear? Absolutely not: honest and loving feedback is more beneficial than false compliments. Proverbs 27:5-6 says ‘Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.’ (NIV) Galatians 6:1 says: ‘if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.’ What does this look like? If someone we know has sinned, we should approach them with the intention of helping them grow rather than trying to hurt them.
Finally, we can take comfort in knowing that when God is calling us to build others up, he’s calling them to support us in our striving after a holy life too: ‘encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.’ (Hebrews 3:13 NIV)
Gideon Kukoyi, Church of God in Littleton