Jump Start # 2667
Ephesians 4:22-24 “that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which, in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”
There is one word that can sum up our verses today. That word is change. Change the way you think. Change the way you act. Change the way you do things. And, that one word is often hard for us. We don’t do well with change. We get accustomed to the way things are. We drive down the same roads. We shop at the same stores. Many of us even sit in the same pew during worship. And, when life forces us to change, it’s hard on us.
It takes awhile to get used to a new phone, a new remote, finding things in a new store. And, the older one gets, the more he wishes that things would go back to the way they used to be. But that never happens. So, one is forced to embrace change or be left behind.
The passages today are not about new technology, or new roads, but a new way of life. Conversion is called “the newness of life.” Things are different. Things are no longer what they once were. It’s not a matter of simply adding church to your busy life. You, through Jesus Christ, have changed. You are not the same person as you once were. Your value system changed. What impresses you has changed. What you are after has changed. On the outside, you look the same, but on the inside, you are not the same. You have changed.
Some thoughts for us:
First, this change comes in the form of choices that we must make. Once in a while, you’ll run into someone who was baptized but he never really changed. He’s still rough, raw and offensive. He’s remained selfish and indifferent to others. He speaks cruel and judgmental things. He’s hard on his family. He doesn’t seem to care much about his church family. This guy got into the baptistery, but somehow he left his heart out. He never changed. And, the waters of baptism will not magically change a person, he has to make the right choices in his life.
Paul uses two action words in our verses today. First, laying aside. Putting off. Stopping, is a much clearer understanding. Second, put on. Start doing. So, change is manifested in both a positive and a negative. One has stopped doing the things that are not healthy spiritually and now he has chosen to do the right things spiritually. His choice. His actions. His new life.
Second, this change is possible for all of us. The old saying, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” may be true of dogs, but we are not dogs. We are created in the image of God. You can change. You can stop wrong behavior and wrong thinking. You can start doing what is right and thinking right. No one is too old to do this. It takes some effort. It takes some “want to” and will power and diligence, but it can be done. It can be done because God says so.
Third, once this change has been made, it will be noticed by you, by your family, by those you associate with. A different and better attitude will be seen. A better and more positive spirit will be expressed. A kinder, more compassionate, more willing to help out heart will be part of you. You’ll be more patient. You’ll forgive more. You’ll check your words before you say them. You’ll listen more and talk less. And, what people will see is a better you. It ought to improve your marriage. It ought to give you a better relationship with your children and siblings. You’ll feel better about yourself. You’ll realize what a mess and how miserable you once were.
Fourth, you’ll find that you have much more in common with your church family. You’re thinking, ideas, dreams and hopes will gel into a common love for the Lord and His kingdom. You’ll like worship much more. You’ll find that people enjoy your company and want to know what you are thinking about things.
Finally, you’ll see that you cannot really change others. You can only change yourself. You can show others. You can influence others. You can teach and even warn others. But, in the end, they have to change themselves, just as you had to change yourself. Sometimes we invite trouble and battles when we try to pressure or even force others to change when they don’t want to. This is hard for parents of grown children to deal with. You remember when your child was three, you told him what to eat, what to wear and when to go to bed. But when that child is now thirty-three, he doesn’t and probably won’t listen to you. Your role has changed. You have gone from controlling his life to being an advisor. And, the truth is, our children often do not want nor like our advice. You can only change yourself.
Change. Some fight it. Some find it hard to deal with. But when we change our insides for the Lord, what a wonderful, wonderful world is opened up to us.