Pull it Up, Clean it Off, Keep it Out!

“Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and… be renewed in the spirit of your minds. Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth… Do not sin;.. give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear… 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, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” “Put to death what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. You must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” Ephesians 4:22-29,31-32; Colossians 3:5,8-10

The difference between a strong and useful ladder and a sturdy but useless one is where it is kept. It is imperative around salt water to keep metal up and out for it to stay clean. A dock ladder crusted with oyster shells and barnacles invites slashed feet, and likely will not fulfill its purpose. It takes hours of determination and hard work, along with a good set of tools and gloves, to chisel away at a the foreign, concrete-like clingers on a ladder left in the water too long.

Isn’t this a vivid picture of our lives? We were made to be conformed to Christ Jesus. When we immerse ourselves and remain in the world’s liquid without the respite of fresh air, we gather a growing crust of unsavory language, worldly thinking, and self-centered motivations. Personal rights and petty irritations cling to our mindset, and over time these attitudes and practices are almost impossible to chisel out. Submerged in the darkness, without coming up for regular cleansing with pure living water, and remaining in the light, our hearts grow hard. Barnacles of resentment, self-focus, sensual indulgences collect one on top of another until our created identity can hardly be recognized, and our effectiveness as God’s ambassadors decays. (Romans 8:29-30)

Where have I grown callous to sin? From what default habits of judgment or favoritism, or choices of entertainment, or creeping roots of bitterness, must I extricate myself in order to be filled with the Spirit? Once I repent and yield to God’s chisel, how accountable am I to staying clean? With what new shine am I replacing the old crust?

Good Father, pull me up out of complacency over ungodliness, cleanse me, and renew me day by day. May my life be a conduit for others to rise up to behold and love You.

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