Read His Words Before Ours!
What are some of your family traditions? Do you vacation at the same time in the same place every year? Do you have a unique way of celebrating birthdays? What marks your family as a unit, a team? What are your values?
Every family has certain characteristics setting it apart from other families. Each is unique in its own way, and the family of God is no different.
When we decide to follow Jesus, we make the decision to leave behind past ways of thinking, believing, and behaving. We become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17) We join a new family, and adopt a new set of values along with a new identity. We are called to leave our former way of selfish living and, instead, take on the character of our adoptive Father, with our thoughts and actions reflecting Christ’s.
How do we develop the mind of Christ?
Our culture loves self-help books. Whether we need to better manage our time, money, business, or diet, we can find many resources to help us succeed. While we might run across a few tips, lasting change requires more. We all know the motivation bought by those helpful tricks will wane after a few weeks, because our hearts and minds remain untouched.
In contrast, Jesus calls us to a radically transformed life, beginning with our inner selves. (Ephesians 3:16) Lifelong change will only grow from a renewed mind and transformed spirit.
True change, working from the inside out, will, in turn,
display the power of Jesus to a watching world.
I love preschoolers! Their hunger for learning and amazement with the simplest of concepts inspires me to approach life with wonder. One experiment I’ve loved performing with them is to place a white flower into a vase of water tinted with food coloring. After a day or two, the children note the flower petals are no longer white, but have become the same color as the tinted water.
Simple experiments teach the most profound lessons in life. Just as the flowers take on the color of the water in which they are placed, so we must be careful what we allow into our minds. God has graciously given us His Words, contained in the Bible, to show us how He expects us to live and why those expectations are necessary.
For example, we are told to treat each other with compassion, to encourage each other, to forgive each other just as God has forgiven us. (Ephesians 4:32) We can fake all of those behaviors to a point. Occasionally, we can force the action, much like a child who has been told to apologize turns with contempt to the one he’s wronged and mumbles an insincere “sorry.” Empty words have been spoken, but no heart change or reconciliation has taken place.
This heart change is only possible as we saturate our minds and hearts with God’s Word and by spending time in His presence through prayer. Colossians 3:16 encourages us to “dwell richly” in the Word of Christ and live together in unity. The more time we spend with Him, the more we develop the mind of Christ, and our actions will reveal His character.
The world today needs hope. As followers of Jesus, we possess that hope and are directed to share it with the doubting world. (Romans 15:13)
What are we showing the world?
Are we showing love in our treatment of those who don’t know Jesus, and each other as brothers and sisters?
Are we known for building each other up, or are we tearing each other down over disagreements?
Are we forgiving, letting past offenses stay behind, as Christ has done for us?
Do we strive to mend broken relationships, believing the best in each other, or do we gossip to create further division?
In full transparency, I am guilty.
This passage has wrecked me the past few weeks as I have wrestled with some attitudes which do not honor God or represent His character well. I am thankful we serve a Father who is generous in forgiveness, and continues to welcome me back into His arms. He listens to my apology and, with full knowledge I will certainly mess up again, He still chooses to love me and partner with me on His mission.
Sisters, shall we embrace this Jesus life?
Like my preschoolers’ flower and the tree described in Psalm 1, let’s deeply root ourselves in our Father through prayer, study of His Word, the exhortation and encouragement of fellow believers, and authentic repentance and reconciliation. As we are transformed from within, we will bear fruit in season, inviting the lost around us to join us on this journey, the Jesus life.
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