Is it “okay” to use that word when describing something that is a direct result of the work of the Holy Spirit dwelling within my soul? Because I could have chosen a few other titles…
Sanctification is Hard…which is true.
Sanctification is Necessary…also true.
Sanctification Stinks…just not quite intense enough.
Before I go any further, let me quickly summarize what sanctification is because this is one of those “church words” that I personally didn’t know about or understand until I was 30. I actually learned it while teaching my daughter’s Awana class because it was a word she was learning!
Sanctification means to be set apart (from the world)
by God to be made Holy (like Jesus).
The Bible teaches us that, as Christians, we are to be IN the world but not OF the world. That our lives SHOULD look different than our unsaved neighbors. Not that we are better than them in any way, but, that because we have the living God IN us, we should live out our day to day lives with HIS GLORY in mind. We can not accomplish this withOUT living differently then they do.
That sounds all well and good. Teach that to me in Sunday School and I will try really hard to be on my best behavior. I will resist the temptation to drink, to curse or yell when I am angry. I won’t dress immodestly, watch Rated R movies or listen to mainstream music. At least, I won’t do these things in public where others can see me. And I’ll be in church every week. That should be good enough, right? Uhmmm…NOPE!
Sanctification is not a behavior we can control,
it is a CHANGE in behavior that God controls.
I used to be a consultant for a direct sales company that I truly love. I love the product, the company mission and the women I have met because of what I do. It has been a wonderful outlet for my creativity and gives me a platform to use my natural ability to teach. However, it didn’t take long before I had made an idol out of it.
Give me a little praise and I am grateful, give me a LOT of praise, and I become obsessed with wanting more.
My pride was quickly fueled by genuine compliments from fellow consultants, hostesses, and customers. I wanted to be at the top! In just my 2nd year as a consultant, I was on track to earn the company trip to Maui. Not too shabby! The thing is, though I was achieving my goal, I was a CRANKY mom who routinely stayed up until after midnight working on new graphics and videos. I was a UNCOMPASSIONATE wife who was too busy to see that my husband needed to rest. I was even a FRUSTRATED consultant who was annoyed when a party did go well despite all the effort I had put into it. I was definitely NOT HOLY!
But then God took it…
I wrote those same words in my “My Story” story when describing my anger. THAT moment was one of peace and I was glad God took it. In THIS case, however, I was not peaceful, I was devastated!
With only 6 weeks left before the cutoff, I was doing everything I could to secure my trip. I reached out to everyone – family, customers, even people I hadn’t spoken to in years, in hopes that they would host a party for me. I wasn’t really all that interested in sharing the amazing difference the products could make in their lives. I had lost my passion for the company’s mission. My single focus now was $ales – enough to earn Maui.
And God said, “No.”
I fell just short of earning the trip. Close enough to hear the waves crashing in my imagination, but far enough that I would never feel the sand between my toes. It was awful. Beyond that, my parties started to decline rapidly. My efforts had burned up my contact list. I had no one left to share my company or their products with. The parties I did have bombed. FB changed their algorithm and my Customer group suddenly lost momentum and was no longer a source of steady repeat business. I felt like everything I had built up, all I had worked so hard for was crumbling and IT HURT. My pride, yes, but it hurt my heart. I cried so hard so many times because it felt like I had lost my closest friend. And that is when it hit me…
During this time, I was meeting weekly with the biblical counselor at my church. We had started meeting months before because my marriage was in trouble. But in her wisdom, she saw that my marriage wasn’t really the problem. My idols were. She listened and comforted me as I cried, but always lead me back to scripture. “What does the Bible say about this?” I also started reading a book called Gospel Treason by Brad Bigney. I realized what was happening – God was removing my idol because I treated it as more important than my husband, gave it more attention than I did my children and loved it more than Him. He wasn’t doing it to be mean or to punish me. It wasn’t because He wanted me to be unhappy.
God was sanctifying me because, what is more, important to Him than my happiness, is my holiness.
I would love to say that, once I acknowledged I had made my business an idol, I corrected myself and God started to bless my sales again. Cue the upbeat music as the scene fades out on smiling faces all around. But if that were the case, I would have chosen “Sanctification Sinks” as my title.
My business was the first a MANY idols that God revealed and then removed in the past year. There were some that I hadn’t had ANY clue were there until He opened eyes. The more I was sanctified, the more changes I had to make in my life because the more set apart I became.
It has been a HARD year!! It has also been the BEST year!!
God is not done with me yet so I dare not get comfortable thinking I am “good” now. I am very aware of how easily I can slip back into bad habits. I have this verse written in my day planner where I can see it often…
God’s love for me is so strong, so unchanging, so unconditional, that I know He will not allow me to keep an idol in my life where only HE belongs. Sanctification IS hard and it IS necessary, and, yes, it DOES suck.
But I wouldn’t have it any other way because THAT is the way that leads to eternal life.
If you liked this post or it helps you in some way, please share it! There are other women out there who need to read it too!