Now that we are two months into the new year, how many New Year’s resolutions are you maintaining? Perhaps you’ve slipped, or maybe you are diligently staying focused on achieving those goals for 2016. Ephesians 4:22-24 reminds us to “put off” our old selves, which belongs to our former manner of life, and to be “renewed in the spirit” of our minds, to put on the “new self” created after the likeness of God in “true righteousness and holiness.” Our blog topic today for MBU Timeline writers delves into this scripture and examines the question: What does this scripture mean to you and how can you apply this to any goals or resolutions you’ve established for this year?
Graphic by Matt Williams
ASHLEY VAN CAMP
Nearly two months into the new year, I am maintaining/still working toward both of my New Year’s resolutions. My New Year’s resolutions were to eat healthier and to try and understand better the way a person might be from their community.
I accept everyone for who they are and I am a people person, but I’m wanting to be even more open to understanding others outside of my community and not judge someone
because they don’t think or act like me.
So Ephesians 4:22-24 plays a part in my life in a corrupting matter and I want to be made new in the attitude of my mind.
Eating healthier, I have definitely slipped, but I am working toward eating healthier a little bit at a time. I do not like vegetables at all, never have, but I know it is an important food group so when I went grocery shopping last week I bought two different vegetables.
Like Ephesians 4:22-24 says, we were “taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self.” I’m putting off my old self, who did not like vegetables and would judge someone based on their community.
Now I am now eating vegetables a little every day and opening my mind to different social structures in the world.
Wrapping up the second month of the 2016 year, I have become discouraged with the idea of a New Year’s resolution.
Every year I try to “put off” my old self and start a new self, however, no matter how many resolutions I set, I realize that I can never meet all of them perfectly.
Even though I have realized this, I still believe it is always good to keep trying. I struggle with the idea of doing everything perfectly. I have to get good grades, I have to get the best job and I have to support my future family the best way I know how.
The Bible verse that comes to my mind every time I worry about being perfect (or worry in general) is Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV). Even though we may worry about being perfect in this world of so many imperfections, we can rely on God to give us what we need.
He is the one who gave us our life in the first place. This is something that I continually need to grow on, not just once a year.
Entering 2016 the thought of bettering myself is lurking at the forefront of my brain.
Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
With this idea in mind and the challenge presented in Ephesians 4:22-24, I am left to wrestle with the person I am today compared to the person I hope to become this year.
My response to Paul’s wisdom in Ephesians is that I hope to be more loving this year.
I am someone who strives for perfection and desires for everyone to share similar ideas and to also want perfection in their life.
Those desires rapidly evolve into judgment of their behaviors and turning crass toward them and their opposing set of ideologies.
My hope is that I can see people as the individuals they are.
My old cloak of judgment was sewn together by the hands of a small town lifestyle with instinctive objection toward alternate ideas.
I hope to be renewed by the biblical principle of loving one another (Mark 12:31) and putting my love for Jesus far above my distaste of others.
To love on someone is potentially the greatest gift one can receive. This gift is free and was designed to be shared.
I will never make a New Year’s resolution.
I don’t want to fall into a trap of thinking that Jan. 1 is the only day for change; I don’t want to fall into a cycle of resolving and quitting, year after year.
Like Paul, “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out” (Romans 7:18, NIV).
Still, I desire to do what is good.
This year I have noticed my tendency to cast every thought on the future while ignoring the present moment.
So this year I pray that I might learn to be present every moment.
Resolution or not, let’s not miss out on 2016.
The beginning of a new year can be both exciting and intriguing.
There will be many adventures to come, new people to meet and moments that we will cherish in our hearts as well as moments that we would prefer to never encounter again.
Ephesians 4:22-24 talks about leaving the old self behind, which is perfect for the discussion of a “New Year resolution.”
You are starting a new year, which means new opportunities to become a better person and grow closer to God.
Personally, this means an opportunity to see every situation through the eyes of God.
If it is a good situation then be grateful to God; if it is a bad situation then be able to see what I can learn from it.
Like many people I hope for the best, but in the worst I do not lose hope.
Ephesians 4:22-24 is a great encouragement to me as I try to live up to my new year’s resolutions and leave behind my “former manner of life.”
Each year I make a list of goals and resolutions, yet never seem to be able to uphold them beyond the first few weeks.
As I approach a new year with new resolutions and new desires, it’s my hope that I can take the words of Paul in Ephesians and look to Christ to be “renewed in the spirit” and put on the “new self.”
Verse 24 supports one my goals for this new year, and that is to be more like Christ in selflessness and righteousness and be more encouraging to others.
This year I hope to be more active and healthy in my daily schedule and to be a good steward of the body and health God has given me.
As 2015 came to a close, I began to think more and more about what I wanted to be different in the new year.
As I thought about this, my mind went back to resolutions of past years and I was shocked at the few I had kept for an entire year.
Most of these resolutions were action-based fixes.
Things like read more, be more proactive, stop being late the majority of the time, always climbed to the top of my new-year-new-me list.
So, this year I decided to focus on attitudes of my heart.
As I covered this decision in thought and prayer, one common thing kept floating to the surface of my mind.
This “old self,” as Ephesians 4 says, that I needed to put off was an attitude of discontentment.
My heart and mind seemed constantly fixated on wanting to move onto the next season of life instead of trusting God to love in my life in the season I was experiencing.
I am a big picture thinker and this often causes me to not be intentional or very appreciative of the moment I am in.
So, in 2016 I decided to ask God to work on my heart and bring about contentment where I am as well as to trust that each moment I live is for His greater purpose.
This is the “new self” I desire to put on.
He will orchestrate my life perfectly and will not lead me where He does not go, therefore, I can live in contentment and enjoyment of each season life brings.
For the past two years, I have chosen a “word of the year.”
The word I decide to choose is something I will remind myself of every day in order to become a better person.
Last year my word was patience.
I am often a very impatient person, so working on becoming more patient on a regular basis was rather difficult.
But honestly, it was truly amazing to notice the difference one word could make in my life.
I realize now that things don’t always have to be rushed and most of the time it’s better to take things slow.
So this year, I chose another word; resilience.
I am usually a person who dwells on the negative issues in my life.
I am now working on becoming more resilient so that issues I can’t change, don’t have such a negative influence on my life.
I want to be able to bounce back from stressful moments so that I can become more positive and optimistic.
My stress levels are often high because I deal with many things on a regular basis.
From being a full-time student, working 25-plus hours a week, babysitting three days a week, and trying to maintain somewhat of a personal life, I often find myself full of anxiety, stress and worry.
By becoming more resilient and patient these high levels of negative influences will become lower, and I will become less stressful.
My small personal goals are something that I believe will make me a better person while leading me toward a positive, holy path in my life.
In my opinion, life should be about trying to become the best you that you can be.
This year I didn’t really come up with a new year’s resolution.
I challenged myself to read the whole Bible within a year and download a Bible app on my phone to help.
This sadly failed after my phone informed me that there wasn’t enough space so I eventually deleted the app.
I always try to better myself by changing one thing at a time to reach a goal that I have.
This year my Dad was involved in a robbery and was shot twice. Luckily he was rushed to the hospital and was saved by the grace of God.
Doctors informed me that he was shot in the rib and he stayed in intensive care for about a month.
Eventually he healed after a month and a half and was released from the hospital for therapy.
Before this incident me and my Dad were not very close and I even came to a point where I never wanted to talk to him.
I learned that God sends people into your life for a reason and although my dad and I don’t have the best relationship I make a constant effort to reach out to him and I decided to leave any anger I had towards him in the past.
This situation has really taught me how to forgive and I want to live in the likeness of God so I refuse to hold on to any grudges or hatred in my heart.
Every year we grow a little more.
Every Dec. 31 we look back on the past year and reminisce “how time flies” and “so much has changed.”
But most of what has grown about us or changed in our surroundings was simply by existing passively, change without actual conscience choice.
Just imagine for a second how much change a year could hold by living intentionally.
That is what I want from a new year.
The choice to “put off the old self, which is corrupted by deceitful desires, and to be made new in the attitude of your mind, and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” as Ephesians 4:22-24 depicts, is not to be simply heard and let fly out the other ear, but to apply and build the best year possible.
So maybe you’ve created a full list of New Year’s resolutions from skydiving to posting “happy birthday” for every friend on Facebook.
Perhaps you’ve simply thought of a couple general points like being more generous or hugging more.
Whoever you may be, I challenge you to put off the old, for that is past and sealed, and put on the new, for that is a gift not to be taken for granted.
Already over two months into the New Year, I have sadly fallen short of my resolutions.
My resolutions were to stay completely focused on school and to challenge myself in that area.
Since school has started, events have occurred that have had me sidetracked, causing my schoolwork to put on the back burner.
Although I know it’s out of my control, I still believe I could have made it a priority but instead I let it slip.
Now that life is slowly getting back to normal, I hope I can maintain my goal in getting a better GPA than last year and put school first.
Another resolution, as cliché as it may sound, was to get back into working out.
I used to actively go to the gym as much as possible, but I have let that slide as well due to time management issues.
I’ve fully decided that January was just a trial run, and that the actual start to the New Year is this month.
Therefore, I plan to start both of these resolutions and maintain them not only for the whole year, but hopefully for life.
When the scripture says “putting off our old self,” I feel it means letting go of any negativity in our lives or any unwanted aspects.
There is always room for change or improvement no matter where you are in life.
So far I have been able to maintain all of my New year’s resolutions.
My resolutions for 2016 were to treat people better, and improve my relationship with my Father.
For me, I believe that the “put off our old self” means to let go of negative character traits.
By letting go of these negative traits, we open ourselves up to the gift God has given all of us, that is, the potential to be righteous.
Nearly two months into the new year, I am definitely trying to be more positive for my Brazilian friends, always trying to encourage and help them in regard to the difficult mission of living away from home, the people we love, and everything that comforts us. And then focusing on our goals, even if it means keeping us over a long period of time away from our “natural habitat.”
Homesick, extreme cold, financial issues, social interaction with different people every day — all that wears you out. All this affects our daily lives and, often, leaves us discouraged, asking: Will all this be worth it for our future?
Goodwill, discipline, and humility are essential. Whenever I see a friend discouraged, I try to recall the size of our dreams, reaffirming that nothing in life happens by chance.
God is always watching over us and, if He decides that our way to ”get a place in the Sun” was so so be it; never leaving aside our faith in the Lord.
Focus, perseverance, positive attitude, hard work and faith in God. One day we will laugh at these moments with our families gathered, celebrating and highlighting the tough battle that we went through to get there.
2016: A year of spiritual evolution and positivity toward the loved ones.