and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Eph. 4:24; NASB
This title might be a hard pill to swallow, but once ingested will bring tremendous growth, and is well worth the time and effort to digest. This is only one verse of an entire passage telling us to take responsibility for our actions. As Paul states earlier in verse 17, “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord,” which leaves no doubt that it is not only his opinion, but the Lord’s. He is telling us to “put on the new self,” which is a directive to us. He does not say to pray for God to enable us to act right. In verse 22, he says, “… lay aside the old self, …” which again is a directive upon which we are to act.
I have occasionally had smokers tell me they are praying for God to make cigarettes distasteful to them so they can quit smoking. My response is that God is not in the habit of making things easy for us just because we do not want to do the work. They should throw away the pack and pray for the strength to resist the temptation to buy another. Then each time the temptation comes they should pray, faithfully expecting God to answer. Our issues will not go away without doing the work necessary to bring about change.
If someone offends you, you must decide to forgive them. Then you should pray for them, regardless of the depth of the offense. If you have anger issues, you must decide to put those issues aside. If you have lustful thoughts or desires, you must decide to lay them aside. Envy, pride, jealousy, self-pity, (the list goes on) essentially every act of the flesh must be put aside, and it is our responsibility to make that happen.
The truth is, any issues we might have are there because we have not fully submitted to the most basic of God’s wishes. Those basic wishes are loving the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving your neighbor as yourself (see Mk. 12:30-31). That is the issue. I have found that many can recite these commands, but few make an honest, daily effort to walk them out. If we would be vigilant to incorporate these two commands into our everyday lives as best we can, our issues would fade away, eventually ceasing to be issues. That doesn’t mean all our problems will go away. This is an evil world and will continue to be that way until Christ returns. But the way we handle those issues, and the effect they have on our lives, will change drastically. It is certainly worth a try.
Have a great week and God bless.