A friend of mine married a wonderful, widowed lady from another country who had two daughters from her first marriage. One of the girl’s name translated into English is “Holy.” When they were moving to the United States, there was some thought on whether she should add an “L” to her name and become “Holly.” There are plenty of young ladies named “Holly,” but not too many named “Holy.” (By the way, her sister’s name is translated as “Glory” and they wondered if she should go by “Gloria.”). In the end, it just seemed right for the girls to keep their given names. So they are still “Holy” and “Glory.” What beautiful names!
I wish more of us would equate ourselves with holy too. I’m not suggesting we all change our names. It might be weird at Christmas time if my friend Jim Knight had a grandchild named “O. Holy.” Still I think we could embrace holiness like it were our namesake.
Most of the holy people I know are reluctant to describe themselves as holy. Maybe it’s because they don’t want to be “holier than thou” or tout their holiness as if holiness placed them on some kind of pedestal (By the way, I don’t think that’s the case at all. We all agree that Jesus was the most holy person to walk on planet earth, but Jesus never seemed to place himself on a pedestal.). Maybe the truly holy people are reluctant to use this term to describe themselves because holiness and humility often go hand in hand. This humility causes the holy ones to honestly evaluate that they haven’t “arrived” and there is still room for growth into Christ-likeness.
In spite of not wanting to describe themselves as holy, make no mistake, people can be holy. When God says (repeatedly) in the Bible to “be holy as I am holy.” God wasn’t taunting us to an impossible holiness dream but instead provides a way for people to be holy.
I know people can be holy, because I see the evidence of God’s holy work in people every day. I work with some very holy people. I have been privileged to pastor plenty of holy people. I know they are holy not because of the length of their dresses or how they cut their hair. I’ve observed their holiness not in an outward appearance, but in an inward peace, a joy-filled heart and a servant’s attitude.
Holy people are quick to understand and quicker to forgive. They are slow to anger and refuse to speak poorly of others. Holy people pray for their enemies and make every effort to transform their “enemies” into friends. Whether you call yourself “holy” or not, we need more holy people in the world today. We need more people who are displaying Christ-like qualities in their conversations and in their interactions with those inside and outside of the church.
Your name might not be “Holy,” but let’s seek and embrace holiness like it is!