You may have noticed that I didn’t make any posts on Saturday or Sunday. I told you before that my morning schedule has changed. My husband has been waking up when I do, and we have been spending more time together–good quality time. I don’t know what the future holds, but I did recognize this weekend that the Lord has given me the gift of time to spend with my husband. I could have been jealous for the time to spend in writing, but instead I chose to rejoice in my time with my husband. This time and this new closeness we are sharing is one of the things I’ve been praying for, so I am thanking the Lord for what He has provided.
The other day we said that when we are conformed to the character of Christ, we are set apart from the world and are seated in Christ, who is the truth (John 14:6). We must make the choice to submit ourselves to the Lord, and allow Him to change us from the inside out. We must let go of pride and become humble before the Lord daily.
Practically, Paul gives us specific things we are not to do in our new selves: We are “not to let the sun go down on [our] anger” (Eph 4:26) which can “give the devil an opportunity” (v 27); we are to “let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear” (v 29); and we are to “let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” (v 31).
I can’t begin to count the number of times in my life that I’ve become angry, and have not only held onto it, but wallowed in it. Replaying whatever happened, giving energy to the offense, and the feeling I had of righteous indignation festered malice in my heart. I can tell you that in these times I was not putting on the new self, I was very much wearing the old self, and I did give the devil an opportunity to make me useless for the kingdom of God.
As we discussed in Warning: Take Off The Old Self, the enemy is throwing fiery darts into our minds, to turn our thoughts from who we are in Christ to our former me-centered and prideful selves. “We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:3-5) In our “new selves” there is no room for prideful and worldly thoughts; we are following Christ, and therefore are to take every thought captive to Christ. We are to take off the old, and humbly allow the Lord to change us from the inside out (see Changed Into The New Self).
In our new selves, we are to think like Christ. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Phil. 4:8) In this admonition, there is no room for prideful thoughts, for being offended by what others say and letting our anger fester. That is who we were, not who we are in Christ.
Jesus said, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Matt. 12:34) So we must look at our speech–what we say and what we think. If our speech is prideful (me-centered), angry, slanderous or bitter, then it doesn’t line up with who we are in Christ; and we must take those thoughts captive and give them to the Lord, and instead think about whatever is noble… right..pure…lovely…admirable…excellent…and praiseworthy. Phil 4:8 should become our measuring stick to our thoughts and words.
We are instead to walk in the freedom and victory that Christ provides for us, not enslaved to pride, and anger. We are to: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:32) This weekend, I had just such an opportunity. I could lament that my normal time to write posts wasn’t available. It could have made me angry. But instead, I chose to see it as an opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit work through me.
Especially when we pray for someone to become more tender in their heart to the Lord, we must show love and tenderness; we must show them they matter to us. “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear” (v 29) We must show up in Christ–in our new selves–ready to be used for the glory of God’s kingdom, and be willing to let go of other plans we might have. People in this fallen world need to see and hear about God’s grace, so we must be ready for the “need of the moment” to speak in His grace and share His love. What opportunities is the Lord giving you today?