All kids need a time-out once in a while.
We had a chair in the utility room that served that purpose. The only things to look at back there were the washer and dryer. The “fun” was a few yards away, and the offender could hear it but not be part of it.
Fifteen minutes on the time-out chair seemed like an eternity to a young child, but it was usually enough time to think about their mistakes and how to ask for forgiveness. The discipline served as a reminder that the bad behavior just wasn’t worth repeating.
All of us need a time-out chair in our lives if we want to live a life of obedience.
What should God’s people look like?
God’s people aren’t quite as easy to distinguish in our world today.
Years ago, we were told to be “seeker friendly” instead of “holier than thou.” We didn’t want the people in the world to think they didn’t belong in our churches. We wanted them to know that we didn’t think we were better or more loved by God than anyone else. We wanted everyone to know that they could bring their sin to the altar just like we did.
We stopped dressing up for church because we didn’t want people to feel uncomfortable or be able to say they didn’t have the proper clothing for worship. We stopped singing hymns because visitors to our churches didn’t understand them and it was difficult to sing them. We wanted to make non-Christians feel more welcome, and they did.
A lot of good things happened when we “relaxed the rules,” but some wrong things happened as well.
Our churches look more like the world these days, but so do God’s people. We didn’t want to look “holier than thou” so we stopped trying to look holy.
The problem is, that was never a biblical idea.
The Bible says God’s people are supposed to look holy to a world that isn’t.
What does “holy” look like?
Recently, I gave myself a time-out. I just sensed that God wanted to make some adjustments in some of my behaviors. The time-out chair wasn’t particularly comfortable. It felt a bit isolated from what everyone else was doing. And, I wanted down before God said it was time.
I hope I spent enough time to think about the mistakes, think about how to ask for forgiveness, and remember that the bad behaviors just weren’t worth repeating.
I became particularly fond of 1 Peter during my time-out.
Peter knew about “misbehaving” and he knew how to fix it
Peter told the early Christians, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:14–16).
So, what does “holy” look like?
Actually, the rest of 1 Peter describes it. The next time you sit in your time-out chair, spend some time in those words. It isn’t hard to know what holy looks like; it’s just hard to look holy.
Peter had made his share of mistakes, so his words are the voice of experience.
We all need a spiritual time-out chair once in a while
When we sat our kids in time-out, we usually told them to think about what they had done and what they needed to do in the future. That’s the purpose of a spiritual time-out as well.
Christians wanted to be more seeker friendly, but the result was that many of our churches started looking more like the seekers than the One we were supposed to be seeking.
We need to take some time and think about our most important purpose. God said we were supposed to be holy. Jesus said we were supposed to “make disciples.”
Consider these questions in your spiritual time-out chair:
- Does my life indicate that I am a holy child of God?
- Is my calling about making friends or disciples?
Hopefully, we can make disciples and friends. However, practically speaking, some friendships will suffer if we choose to be holy. Holy and popular don’t always run in the same circles.
If our churches and our people want to be holy, some of the seekers won’t think we are very “friendly.”
When the fifteen minutes are up
The time-out chair usually did the trick. I could put a wailing, misbehaving three-year-old in the time-out chair and, after fifteen minutes, he was like a different child.
Sadly, he might end up back there later in the day. Consistent good behavior requires a lot of maturity, but there is grace for the growing.
Spiritual time-outs take time, but the goal is maturity. Thankfully, there is a lot of grace for the growing.
And Peter told us what to do when we are ready to get out of time-out. He said, “Preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13).
When the fifteen minutes are up, we should be wiser and ready to go.
We have prepared our minds to fulfill our purpose. We are sober-minded, knowing our goals are more like God’s. And we have been recipients of the grace that we are to give to others. We are focused on the revelation of Jesus Christ and ready to live the holy life “our Dad” wants us to live.
We are called to be holy
Why did God give his children such high standards for our lives?
Why did God think we should be, or could be, holy?
Peter answered those questions like this: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).
He loves us and wants us to be holy
I imagine my kids thought I was too hard on them at times. But, I adored my boys and had really high standards for their behavior.
So does God.
My boys learned a lot sitting in time-out—and so will we.
If you need an “attitude adjustment” or some changes in your behavior, head to the time-out chair to think. God will tell you when you can get down.
We are all on the road to spiritual maturity, and those rest stops come in handy. Holiness is hard, but it has been promised that we will grow up one day.
We will be holy because he is holy.