For the past six months, we moved in order to downsize so that we can have more time to spend with God and with our family. My first personal agenda was to rid myself of a lot of material items that I have used through the years but are not needed anymore. My second agenda was that the physical move from one place to another was to be like leaving behind the thoughts and behaviors I struggle with and start fresh with a brand new way of being.
The home we moved into was brand new, even a lot of the furniture was brand new. I wanted me to be brand new too. But reality hit which, summed up, is that old adage, “Wherever you are, there you are.”
In the Epistles, Paul writes about the old man nature and the new man. At different times in our lives, we think that moving to a new town, getting a new job, finding a new church, maybe even getting a spouse, (or getting rid of a spouse) would make us be new also. The same problems arise with the new situations because what really need to change are the wounds, pains, and wrong thinking that we have about God, Jesus Christ, ourselves, and others. It is a matter of a heart change. When our mind and heart are excluded from the life of God because of ungodly thoughts and callousness of heart, we then are captivated by sensuality and the practice of impurity and greed.
Ephesians 4:20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
It has been helpful to me to spend less time planting flowers, weeding, and house cleaning, so that I can focus on what I consider, at my stage in life, more important things. The move was helpful in giving me more time, but unless I make the changes in my heart and mind, I bring along my old baggage and unpack it in my new house. This is not good. Our mind is to be renewed with what Paul continues to explain.
Ephesians 4:25-27 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,and do not give the devil an opportunity.
Unpacking bag number one, we need to recognize that lying is in this bag, and every time there is an opportunity to lie, it is an opportunity to speak the truth. Do we want to be holy and blameless before our Yahweh who loves us so much? Or do I want to disregard Him and do what our weak flesh wants to do? Taking the time to stop and actually think and contemplate about what we are doing helps us leave the trash in the bag and take out the good stuff to use in our new life with God. Paul continues.
Ephesians 4:28 – 29 He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. 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.
Bag number two has another form of lying which is stealing. When we skip out early from work, take extra time to be on the internet for personal use, or otherwise not labor in a truthful way, we are, in a way, stealing. It is a choice. Do I unpack this behavior, or do I leave it in the bag? We make it seem so much more difficult than it has to be. I unpacked a box. I decided what I wanted to use and where it would be useful. If it wasn’t of value, I got rid of it. It really is the same way spiritually because we have Christ who strengthens us. On our own we cannot, but with Christ in us we can. Do I unpack unkind words and the occasional unwholesome words? Letting one unwholesome word out once in a while, what is wrong with that? Plenty. We are instructed that “no unwholesome word” is to come out of our mouth. I need some serious duct tape.
One last bag to open for now.
Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
All our old rants and rages about the past, our disparaging of people whom we think were unjust, cruel, stupid, and unloving can stay in the bag for disposal in the dumpster. It does us no good at all to carry this along with us. For some odd reason, we tend to think if we are unforgiving and bitter toward someone, it is in some way hurting that person or protecting ourselves. This is so far from the truth. The one it actually hurts is us and that is because it interferes with our own relationship with God. Leaving rage and bitterness alone and unpacking kindness and forgiveness will continue to help us live blamelessly.
For me, moving to our new home and seeing God work through it all has been a great experience. I kept the items that I liked the best and meant the most to me. It was fun to unpack them and find new places to keep them. We can do the same thing with our minds and hearts. Take the best of us, our love for God, talents, and abilities and apply them in a godly way for living each day in the newness of life.