“Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.” (William D. Longstaff)
One of the great hymns that exhort each other in worship is indeed ‘Take Time to be Holy’ by William D. Longstaff. Written around 1882.
It emphasizes an essential aspect of biblical spirituality--spiritual life is lived intentionally, it requires effort. Billy Graham said years ago that to go to hell we don’t have to do anything, the road leads there anyway. But to make it to heaven, one has to really steer away.
Holiness is not just having good thoughts, deeds or attitudes. It is not defined in reference to us or to our world around. It is living a life that pleases God. God alone is holy and he demands that ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’ (1 Pet 1:16 ESV). Actions, words, thoughts, attitudes and all that do matter but only if it meets God’s standards. His holiness is the standard for our holiness. This holiness requires determination from our side, it doesn’t come automatically.
The reason for making conscious effort to lead lives that meet God’s standard is that the ‘world rushes on.’ The world is in a mad rush and it can carry us with us unless we are careful. The world keeps us busy so that we have no time think about anything at all and that includes God. So, we get caught in this mad rush that forces us to even ignore to eat, sleep having time with our families. This combined with a lifestyle that ignores God is the recipe for disaster. So, it is important to pull aside from the maddening crowd and its din to find quality time with God.
This requires us to focus on Jesus, spending time in secret prayer and meditate his Word. To grow into his likeness is a wonderful goal in life.