Today's Lectionary Text
Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. That is not the way you learned Christ! For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children,
There was a time in my recent past where I experienced what I’d like to call a ‘spiritual desert’. Like the Gentiles in this passage, I experienced a hardness of heart. I had let my inner being become so stone like that my life hardly resembled the goodness of a heart deeply connected to Christ. Kindness, which had once been second nature to me, became a distant stranger. I let in resentment, anger, and bitterness to live in my heart as welcome guests. I had forgotten how to live in the truth and abundant life that Jesus offers in life with Him.
Christ invites us to enter into a relationship where we must take off our former way of life and be present in the renewing of our minds. We are to lay the negative and harming behaviors aside and put on our new self in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17— “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”)
After ruminating on the words in this scripture, what is compelling is that this isn’t a singular process. While the transformation does happen ultimately within us—it is certainly spurred on in relationship. We are to be kind to one another, to be compassionate to one another, and to forgive one another. In this way, we are called to imitate Christ.
Through reconnecting with God, friendships/mentors, study, and introspection, I made my way through the spiritual desert, removed the trappings of my former self and put on my new self in Christ. Can you identify areas in your own life where your heart has become hard or areas where your old self still lingers? I invite you to be in relationship, be kind, compassionate, to forgive, and clothe yourself in Christ.
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Prayer for Reflection
Transformative Creator, reach into our hardened hearts and knead it back into the tender muscle that imitates you. Let us strive for kindness, compassion, and forgiveness so we may be an example for others. Amen.
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