By Becky Ullom Naugle, director of Youth/Young Adult Ministries for the Church of the Brethren
Ephesians 4:17-32 “…put off your old self…put on your new self…”
Life is full of transitions. Sometimes we seek out transition, and yet many times we are simply pushed into it. For example, we might choose to develop a new habit or skill. Yet other transitions in life, like graduating, tend to come whether or not we feel prepared for the next stage of life.
Right now, most of the world is learning how to deal with an unchosen transition. There are very few people alive today who have lived through a global pandemic before. This is new territory for everyone – you, your parents, your youth leaders, your coaches and teachers. We mourn that we’ve been forced into a new way of living. We don’t like it, and many would rather go back to their old selves, their old way of being.
Paul’s words in Ephesians are challenging! The kinds of things Paul says we need to change in our own lives involve chosen transitions that are HARD. We must “put away falsehood and speak truth to our neighbors.” That is hard. We must “be angry but not sin.” That’s HARD. And Paul was not nearly done with his list! “Let no evil talk come out of our mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.” Y’all, this is seriously life-changing and seriously difficult stuff!
As we face the unchosen transitions related to a global pandemic, let’s take control of our “selves” and choose the kind of changes Paul encouraged. Let’s speak as truthfully as we can to each other. Let’s figure out how to keep from sinning when we are angry. Let’s only speak words that are useful and grace-filled.
Good News: We can choose to be more Jesus-like in our words and interactions, no matter what else is going on around us.
Discussion question: As you think about your “old self” and then your “new self,” what is different? Can you name three concrete changes you will make?
Go one step further: Go change clothes. For the remainder of the day/evening, let the “fresh clothes” remind you of the “fresh, Godly perspective” you are choosing for your life.