What is the old phrase? “Put your best foot forward.” I think most of us would agree that it is a great way to approach life. As believers, we strive, or should strive, to put others ahead of ourselves. Yet our natural instincts are to put ourselves first and many of us are continually in a fight against that natural man within us.
I touched on this topic recently, when I revealed much of my natural man’s thoughts during the time my father and I were ministering to my mother in her final months on this earth. When I receive a compliment or a praise for doing good for someone else, it often makes me uncomfortable. My immature self would have puffed up inside. Ick. Now it’s the thought, “If you only knew the REAL me…” Neither of them are pleasing to the Lord.
I’m reminded of one of the first catechisms I memorized as a little girl (Westminster Shorter Catechism).
What is the chief end of man?
Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.
Obviously, neither of those previous responses glorifies God. But I was created for that purpose! It is easy to have a false humility and focus on that other side of us and come away defeated. God would not create us to glorify Him if we were not capable of doing it. But can we? Only with His help.
Rather than dwell on my dreadful side, I have learned to implement a Biblical principle that has enabled the Holy Spirit to create change within me.
…put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness… Ephesians 4:22-24
Put off, Put on…(I never have heard a catchy name for it.) As a believer, taking the time to acknowledge sin in my life is only half the battle. Paul told the Ephesians in his letter that they must then “put on” the new man, which was created in God’s likeness! I need to open myself up to this exercise to enable that change to take place. This is especially true when the sin area involves a habit that must be broken.
When my sons were much younger, I was terrible for raising my voice to them. Knowing that my anger did not “bring about the righteousness of God,” I was determined to not only stop yelling, but to start speaking gently to them. What a difficult task was ahead of me!
Every time I found myself screeching, I would stop, take a breath, and then ask that child for forgiveness. “Please forgive me for yelling.” But don’t stop there! (Put on…) I then proceeded to say what should have been said, with gentleness. It was a long process, but one in which the Lord honored my desire to change.
The same principle can, and should, be utilized in any sin area that we struggle to gain victory over. If I humble my heart before the Lord, His Holy Spirit will bring about change in my heart so that I CAN glorify Him in all that I do.
What about you? What sin area is the Lord revealing to you? Are you overwhelmed at the task ahead? I won’t pump you up with “You can DO IT!” You can’t. Not alone. But you can do ANYTHING through Him who gives you strength (Phil. 4:13). Take the first step…put off; then make sure to put on the response/heart attitude that would honor Him. In time, you will see the fruit from your labors.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.