Links Daily Devotional

Be Transformed: Get Rid of the Old

Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God… (Ephesians 4:22-24, NLT)

A few years ago when I was caddying in a PGA Tour Champions event, I came to a better understanding of what it means to commit to a swing change. We were paired with a player who had had a successful career on the PGA Tour but was new to the over-50 circuit. It was my first time to see him play in person.

This player was always recognized as a very good putter but never a great ballstriker. In his 40s, he had gone to a swing methodology that several other players had also switched to but not with great success. From the moves he was rehearsing, it was apparent that he was trying to get rid of this adopted method. He hit plenty of good shots, as all the players at that level do, but I must reluctantly report that also I saw several of the ugliest drives I’ve ever seen from a professional player.

What I realized is that he had become so ingrained with this approach to the swing that it took very intentional focus to get rid of the habits he had formed. Often when he would go to hit the ball, he would make a swing with part of the old and part of the new. When he did, the results were pretty bad. It was hard to just drop his tendencies and patterns, even though he knew he wanted to get rid of his old way of hitting the golf ball.

I’ve found in my own game that bad swings often come from a lack of commitment, particularly under pressure. I’ve also found this to be the case in my spiritual journey. The New Testament presents a pervasive theme of how Jesus came to make things new, including you and me. As we read the gospels and epistles, we see this not just as a suggestion but as a command to be a follower of Jesus so that we may experience and live in God’s kingdom.

When a moral and religious man named Nicodemus asked Jesus about possessing this eternal life that Jesus spoke of, the Lord told him that he had to “be born again.” Paul also wrote much about this. To the church in Ephesus in today’s passage, Paul said to “get rid of the old” in order to be what Jesus wants us to become, which is more like him in character.

If you are to be transformed into a new person who is taking on the character of Christ, then you must get rid of your old habits. This can only happen with recognition and intentionality, because when we merge the two, like in a golf swing, the results can be pretty ugly.

We can’t follow Jesus only when it feels right and then keep living for ourselves in our natural self-preservation mindset. Jesus calls us to “die to self” so that we may “gain eternal life.” However, what I find to be my tendency, particularly under the pressures of life, is to hang on to my natural mindset and natural way of thinking (the way of the world) and not stay fully committed to the new person that Jesus says I’ve become.

So, I have a Be Transformed “life swing thought” for you to try. Any time your old way of thinking becomes your thought, get rid of it with a big exhale, and then inhale a thought of Jesus. Practice becoming renewed. You may not become like him instantly, but you can at least be intentional about going in the direction he wants to take you.

Josh Nelson
January 25, 2016
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