Did you know that holiness has beauty? The psalmist declares,
Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 29:2).
As we look around our world, we take in the beauty of nature. The Sequoia sempervirens tower above all other trees demonstrating their strength and longevity. The oceans cleanse our senses as we take in their freshness and powerful sounds. The heaven gives off its strong morning light and mellow evening one as both orbs travel consistently across the sky in their unbroken routine. We take assurance that as the sun sets one day, it will inevitably rise the next and give its warmth and brightness for energizing and enlivening our work and play.
However, the psalmist bypasses the earthly pleasures of creation and takes us to genuine worship apart from the wonders of creation. He calls for worship “in the beauty of holiness.” Whoever has ever described something like holiness as beautiful? It has no physical dimensions. It has no real fragrance nor can we hear musical notes flowing from it like that of a Stradivarius violin in the hands of a virtuoso musician. It has no voice that sings as Joan Sutherland or Luciano Pavarotti. It has no canvas that portrays the artistic splendor of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. The beauty of holiness, according to the psalmist, surpasses these wonderful expressions of humanity, as beautiful as they are.
What makes holiness beautiful? Two things. First, the LORD Himself makes holiness beautiful. Holiness means to set apart for the purpose for which it was created. When a thing is set apart and expresses naturally what God intended, it is holy. The earth and all its splendor in this sense takes on a sense of holiness, for it expresses God’s intended purpose. It expresses the life and greatness God intended. When God created it all, He declared that is was good.
We sometimes take that goodness for granted, and plow through the day under stress and pressure with our routines and ignore God’s wonderful intentions in the created order. As we do so, we not only brush aside God’s intentions in creation that praise Him, but we ignore God’s intentions in our worship of Him. Our action items interfere and bog us down with worry and anxieties. Meeting deadlines and the distractions of the mundane takes us away from the extraordinary, that is, God’s intentions for our lives – the beauty of holiness. Temptations enter the scene and lead us away from His purpose. Things get ugly: broken relationships, bickering, distrust, arguments, tension, isolationism, factions, and related actions and attitudes.
Second, worshiping God in the “beauty of holiness” returns us God’s intended purpose. Such worship turns the ugly things of life into something more beautiful than the surroundings of the natural world. Peace with God is a beautiful position. Assurance of His love and living in it is a beautiful attitude. Jesus informed us of the greatest commandment in the law:
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).
Love of God expresses holiness, because in doing so, this love sets us apart from the way the world loves: conditional and with self in mind. Loving from the heart, soul, and mind encompasses the entire being – nothing left out. This is holiness, and it is beautiful to God. Love expresses worship.