New Year’s is here again. It seems like only yesterday we were standing in the “returns” line at the department store.
New Year’s is also the time many vow to do a total makeover. Smokers swear to never smoke again (Not today on Dec. 31, of course. Just starting Jan. 1.) Mothers who have let their children disrespect them make a note to buy a heavily advertised program that’s supposed to change their out-of-control kids’ behavior. (Good luck with that.) People who have added girth in the past year determine to cut out trans-fatty acids and hydrogenated fats (bye-bye “Twinkies”).
I see an interesting word in Scripture about how to make all things new in your life:
“… be transformed by the renewal of your mind …” (Romans 12:2).
This seems to suggest that sanctification—that is, real change that even your husband will remark on—starts in the mind. Oh, of course, you can make a good case that sanctification begins in the heart. Or in the soul. And I would not quarrel with that. But when God uses the words “transformed” and “renewal of mind” in the same sentence, I ponder it.
And I have seen for myself that it is true. I can try and try to stop certain behaviors that are detrimental, and can succeed to a small and temporary extent. But as long as I am still basically looking at the situation in the same old way, I will experience no lasting transformation. I need to look at it differently. This comes from studying God’s Word and aligning myself with His way of looking at things. (“Do not be conformed to the world,” the first part of our verse, is a noetic as well as a behavioral command.) And it comes from time on my knees.
For example, if I go around depressed about the present state of my household due to my past failings, and if I persist in this depression day after day and year after year, I need a mind-renewal. I need to inform my thinking with the hope of what is possible with Christ. I need to not only believe that He can do wonders but that He will do wonders, and confess that He will do wonders.
A new year is coming. No flash-in-the-pan heroics. Just back to basics: the Word of God and prayer.