Have you ever wondered what holiness feels like? I think I found a verse that expresses what God might like us to experience when we see the fruits of holiness that He is producing in our lives. It’s Malachi 4:2. “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.” (NASB).
Have you ever “skipped” in your spirit after recognizing that your trust in God had expanded to include forgiving someone who hurt you? Or giving grace to someone who normally ignores you by listening with understanding to her share a problem? Or resting patiently in a situation that normally drives you over the edge?
Just imagine the sight of that calf skipping in freedom and not being boxed in any longer by a fence or pen. The Amplified Bible expresses that phrase this way: “and you shall go forth and gambol like calves [released] from the stall and leap for joy.” Just think, we can leap for joy when we obey God and operate in His power. We’re no longer fenced in and held in bondage by sinful patterns like worry, fear, selfishness, hate, resentment, and so many other binding things.
The NIV words it: “And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.” Oh, to frolic like well-fed calves! Can’t you just picture it? This calf isn’t emaciated but instead healthy and well-nourished. I think that gives the idea that it is assured that all it’s real needs are supplied and it is free of concern for love and care. The foundation of holiness is believing and trusting in God’s sovereign love that provides everything we truly need; therefore, we don’t need to demand it from people who are needy themselves.
But where does all this start? The background to Malachi gives us the answer. The Israelites were in another phase of disobedience and Malachi gave God’s prophecy to try to turn them back to God. After three chapters of rebuke, the final chapter, Chapter 4, predicts what will happen when they turn back. Look again at the promise of verse 2 to those who are truly worshiping God: ““But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.”
God brings healing and there’s a feeling of joy about being set free. Healing brings holiness and holiness brings joy. God heals us of our wounds which have created wrong ideas about life,
God, and people. We begin to view our circumstances and the people around us as opportunities to serve God through being a servant. Less and less our attitude is, “I want to be a servant until I’m treated like one.” I’m still growing in this of course, but the joy that comes when I cooperate with God is like skipping out of a pen where I’d been restrained.
Have you experienced that joy? I hope so. We obey not in order to have that feeling but how generous of God to give us the reward to encourage us.
Are you like a calf encircled by some pen? Could it be bitterness, a critical spirit, a sense of entitlement, people pleasing, or self-absorption? Do you want to break free? You can in God’s power through repentance and surrender. Get ready to leap and frolic. The gate is opening.