Tag Archives: Ephesians 4

Out with the Old, In with the New

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV)

A couple of weeks ago Wendy and I went through a process of going through ever article of clothing we own. All the closets were emptied along with the drawers, boxes, bins, and racks. We went through everything and then had discussions about keeping, selling, pitching, and giving. It took a few hours on two different Saturdays, but it was well worth the time. What was left was manageable and organized. Having taken a thoughtful inventory,  it became clear in the process where there are opportunities to update and improve.

In today’s chapter, Paul mentions a similar process of spiritual inventory and life change. As you break it down in the English translation, there are three distinct steps in the process:

  1. Put off your old self. What old habits am I hanging on to, even though they haven’t served me well? Why do I cling to behaviors that only cause me and my loved ones pain and problems? What immature appetites do I continue to indulge when nothing good or worthwhile comes of it?
  2. Be made new in the attitude of the mind. The word “repent” has gotten a bad rap in our culture, conjuring up images of fire-and-brimstone preachers spewing condemnation. It’s a good word, however, and Jesus was clear that following Him required decision and change. Paul tells me in that the process of old-to-new life change starts with my mind and attitude. Willingness, desire, and openness to change coupled with a conscious decision to act.
  3. Put on a new self. When I empty out the old, I find myself all of a sudden with room. If I don’t consciously make wise choices of what to do with the time and space, then I’m only going to find myself cluttering up with the same old junk. Then I’m back to where I began. Once I’ve cleaned up the old, I need to intentionally change how I fill up the Life-space.

I continue to be pleasantly surprised how much better I feel about something as simple and silly as my wardrobe and closet after working through what ended up being a very simple process. I’m reminded by today’s chapter that the same process works more meaningful and worthwhile things in life.

I write this on a Monday morning. The beginning of a new work week is a good morning to meditate on things that I need to “put off,” decisions that need to be made, and new things that I need to “put on” in life.

I Haven’t Arrived, but I’ve Got a Good Set of Directions

source:  Cornelia Kopp via Flickr
source: Cornelia Kopp via Flickr

until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:13 (NIV)

I so regularly use the word picture of “journey” because it captures so perfectly for me the reality of movement, progress, and destination in this life.

When I was a young man I felt a compulsion to be and to appear perfect. I didn’t want others to see or honestly know me with all my human failures. My sense shame and the appearances I put on to mask it only weighed me down and hampered my progress. Somewhere along the way, however, I came to realize that while entering a relationship with Jesus immediately changed my eternal reality, here on Earth I was still the same bozo on the bus that I’d always been still trying to find my way home.

Following Jesus didn’t result in me getting immediately teleported to my destination. I still have to slog through the journey day-by-day like everybody else. The real difference is that now I have a trustworthy Guide and a great set of directions. Honestly accepting this truth allowed me to have a little more grace with myself and with others. I haven’t arrived, and neither has that guy who pisses me off or the lady over there who irritates the crap out of me. I haven’t reached fullness, wholeness, or maturity and neither have they. We’re all bozos on the bus together, and I’ve got to have realistic expectations of myself and others. I know I’m pointed in the right direction, I’m following Jesus, and I’m making progress.

Just keep moving. It’s not a sprint, it’s more like an Iron Man marathon.

Slow and steady wins the race.

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