“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)
With the closing of every year that comes upon us, we’re usually overwhelmed with the busyness of the holiday season. Christmas services, giving campaigns, additional ministry opportunities that are more readily received during this season—all of these are combined with our own personal busyness that’s filled with Christmas shopping, planning meals, spending time with loved ones and celebrating with friends and church family.
Instead of just letting the chaos of the most wonderful time of the year overwhelm you and leave you feeling checked out, be encouraged to take some time and reflect on the past year to see how to move with confidence into 2022.
“Put Off Your Old Self”
Look back over the past year and see what areas in your life kept you from sharing the Gospel and loving the LORD your God with all your heart, soul and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5). Sincerely ask God to reveal those areas that you need to change or remove. Identify them, write them down, and consider why they’ve become part of your life’s routine.
Don’t forget to also reflect on the areas that you did change and work on this past year. Write those down as well and rejoice in the healing and transformation that God brought you! Then, work to continue building upon the lessons learned.
“Be Made New in the Attitude of Your Minds”
Now that you’ve identified areas that need to be changed, determine what they need to be replaced with that will allow your mind to be made new. For example, if you listed hiding your real emotions and struggles from others, the replacement would be authenticity and/or transparency. Cross out the old behaviors and circle the new ones to emphasize the choice to make changes.
Being made new in the “attitude of your mind” requires a choice to make change, to allow God to transform you into His image. This is crucial if you’re planning to take the next step. If you’re not ready to make changes, stop at this point and ask God to make His desires your desires. He will not fail to make this happen for you.
“Put on the New Self”
Okay, you’ve identified what needs to change, and you’ve listed what it takes to make that happen. Now, do it! Focus on one or two areas that you can prioritize, and make every effort to change old behaviors that lead away from God.
If we go back to the earlier example of hiding your real emotions and struggles, one way to be authentic and transparent is to recognize that you’ve already started doing this with yourself. Now, find a trusted friend or advisor and share what you’ve learned with him or her. Start with a few people, and eventually, you’ll learn how to be authentic and transparent with many others.
Don’t be discouraged if the old ways try to pop up again. This is normal and will happen. But, now that you have a plan in place, you’ll be more prepared to recognize them and react differently in the future. And that means you can move with confidence in the next year that God truly is creating you to be like Him “in true righteousness and holiness.”