I picked up a two-year-old. Pulled a hammy! Seriously! I am so old and my body is in such bad shape that just bending down to pick up a two-year-old and I pull a hamstring. I limped the rest of the day. I told people that I saw a hit and run and ran down the car that took off and that it took me a good quarter mile to catch him. You know…I don’t really want to tell people I am limping because I am so old that I can’t pick up a small child without falling to my knees in excruciating pain.
On my knees in the baby room of our daycare, two-year-olds all around me on the play mat, staring with great concern. They looked at me with pity thinking they needed to help me because I wasn’t going to make it. I saw one in the corner on a cell phone calling 9-1-1. It was there that life changed. I realized I was no longer a young man. Nope, now if I know I am going to have to go into the baby room to spell a teacher to the restroom or something, I stretch first, a good half hour. Gotta get those muscles warmed up and ready for the challenge.
I have told myself that I can no longer go out and play basketball without a good warm-up period and a full tank of oxygen. Life is different now. I think differently. If I walk into the gym and it’s a bunch of 19-year-old kids, I walk right by the court and to the snack bar to get myself a coke and a snickers because I am just watching on this day.
Changing the way we think is not easy. It takes intentionality and persistence, self-discipline. It’s a good thing that when we received the Holy Spirit that He specializes in filling us with power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7). He helps us. When John the Baptist was preparing the way for the Lord Jesus to show up on the scene, his message was simple, “Repent.” (Mark 1:4). But what is repentance?
We might say that repentance is to stop sinning. To stop doing those things that we know are sinful would be repentance, right? But the word repentance does not mean to stop doing what you know is wrong. The meaning of the word is more about changing the way we think. We sin because of our thoughts about that sin. What does the Bible say…that we are dragged away and enticed by our own desires (James 1:14). If I desire things that are sinful, then the way I am thinking is wrong, in opposition to the Word of God. If I stop doing the same ole sin, but keep thinking the same way about it, eventually, it will overtake me again. To fully repent, I have to change the way I think.
When John was calling people to repent, he was calling them to change the way they think. The Bible says that we must stop conforming to the pattern of this world and be transformed by the renewing of our mind. To help people prepare for Jesus, we can’t just focus on their behavior. Their behavior is the result of their pattern of thought influenced by the world. The pattern of this world begins with thoughts and ideas about things, people, situations, and circumstances. It is how we see a moment in time and how we think to react to it.
Yesterday, we talked about being honest about sin, but it is more than that. People who do not know the Lord already think that Christianity is just a list of rules that must be followed, but Christianity is about following a way of life designed by our Father in Heaven that leads to a fulfilling, abundant and eternal life. To follow that path, we need power from the Holy Spirit to transform our thinking to see things as God sees things.
We can’t help people to be transformed unless we, ourselves, are transformed in the we think. I will give you an example. I have always struggled with food, overeating. It didn’t help that I was always trying to get bigger for football and in college, I was undersized and required to eat five meals a day. Nevertheless, it started when I was younger and to this day I will want to eat when I am tired or stressed. And at big events such as Thanksgiving, birthday parties, etc., I have a tendency to overeat. I have always known that I shouldn’t. I am fully aware of gluttony, but recently in my prayer time, the Lord began to speak to me about the way I think about food.
He reminded me that in Scripture, there has always been a morality associated with eating. And He revealed to me that I saw indulgence of food different from indulgence of other things. For example, I have never had an issue with alcohol or getting drunk, but I realized that I saw the over-indulgence of alcohol somehow worse than I saw the over-indulgence of food. This was not something conscious, but deep down. I didn’t even realize that I saw them so differently. Of course, after the Holy Spirit helped me to see it, I thought to myself, “Of course, I have been doing this.” But until that moment, it didn’t click with me. I have always known that over-eating was sinful, but now my thinking has conformed to the ways of God to a higher level. I used to think to myself, “Well, in the Old Testament, at celebrations, they ate of the ‘fatted calf.’ It was a big moment, but I realized that it never said they overate in these moments. Somehow, in the recesses of my own spirit, I had developed a way of thinking that was contrary to the Scripture much more than I thought.
This doesn’t mean that I will never overeat again, but with my thinking more in line with Scripture, my behavior is bound to change if I continue to rely on the self-discipline placed in my by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are called to prepare the way for the Lord. We must call people to repentance, a change of their pattern of thought to be aligned with the Holy Scriptures, but we can’t help people do what we are not practicing ourselves. Let’s live a life of repentance.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (ESV)
Lord, I am reminded that your Word says that we can deceive ourselves better than the devil himself can deceive us. I need Your help to think as You think. You have promised to give me the mind of Christ. Help me to attain to this so that I would love as He loves, give compassion as He gives, speaks truth as He speaks, and resists temptation as He did. Help me to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. -Amen.