I tend to wear very similar clothes every day. I cannot claim to have much ‘dress sense’. Yet, believe it or not, before Pippa and I got married it was even worse.
When I got married, my flared trousers, misshapen sweaters with holes, string vests, ties (inherited from an uncle) and dilapidated trousers had to go. I hate getting rid of things – especially clothes to which I am attached. They feel like old friends. But alas, the time had come to be re-clothed.
As well as the outer clothing, our hearts and minds have an inner clothing. When you come into a relationship with God through Jesus, the old clothes have to go and you need a new set of clothes for your heart and mind.
Control your heart and mind about other peopleProverbs 24:15-22
Have you been wronged or hurt in some way by someone and then found out that they got into trouble?
This passage warns us against thinking that they are getting what they deserve and rejoicing over their problems: ‘Do not gloat when your enemies fall; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove’ (vv.17–18a).
It is so easy to gloat when those who have been causing us problems and opposing us mess up and fall. It is rather tempting to enjoy the moment. But this is the wrong response. Watch your heart and resist these thoughts.
As Joyce Meyer writes, ‘It takes a lot of “heart work” for us not to be at least a little bit glad to see that person get what is coming to [them]... We should always remember that “hurting people hurt people”. Those who hurt us are usually hurting within themselves, and their pain may be so strong that they are not even aware they are hurting us.’
Lord, forgive us for the times when we have gloated, and help us to resist the temptation to do so. Help me to control my heart and my mind with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Clothe your heart and mind with loveColossians 3:1-4:1
As a Christian, you are ‘in Christ’. You are united with him in his death and resurrection. Therefore, Paul can write that ‘you died’ (3:3). And he can also write, ‘you have been raised with Christ… your life is now hidden with Christ in God’ (vv.1,3). In the future, ‘When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory’ (v.4).
Because of all that Jesus has done for you and made possible, you need to re-clothe your heart and mind.
- Change what you think about (vv.1–12)
Right action begins with right thinking. You can now live this resurrection life, made possible by Jesus, Paul writes: ‘Set your hearts on things above… Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things’ (vv.1–2).
This is not easy because you are surrounded by ‘earthly things’ (v.2) and temptations. Take radical action. Paul writes, ‘That means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy’ (v.5, MSG). This is what we used to do before we were Christians.
‘Strip off’ the old clothes (v.9, AMP). You must ‘rid yourselves’ (v.8) of the bad stuff: ‘anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on [‘clothed yourselves with’, AMP] the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator’ (vv.8–10).
Put on the new clothes. You are one of God’s chosen people and therefore, you are called to live as such. This means a radical change of your position in the world. Don’t be passive; be active. Instead of the bad stuff, you are called to clothe yourself with ‘compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience’ (v.12).
- Change your reaction to others (vv.13–15)
Jesus lives in every Christian, regardless of background. In Christ there is no racial barrier (‘no Greek or Jew’), no religious barrier (‘circumcised or uncircumcised’), no national barrier (‘barbarian, Scythian’) and no class barrier (‘slave or free’) but ‘Christ is all, and in all’ (v.11).
Paul goes on, ‘bear with each other’ (v.13). In the world, if someone lets you down, that is often the end of the relationship. But you are to ‘forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you’ (v.13).
This kind of forgiveness is a uniquely Christian virtue. Others may forgive, but only Christians have such a solid basis for forgiveness. As C.S. Lewis says, ‘To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.’
One word sums up your new set of clothes: ‘love’. Paul writes, ‘And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity’ (v.14). Love is not just an emotion; it is an action. It is something you ‘put on’. As you put on your physical clothes, so you are to put on love.
This is the beauty of the Christian community – Christ brings about a radical change in your relationships. The way Christians relate is very different from the world and should be so attractive.
How is it possible? You must set your heart and mind in the right place and, as Paul goes on to write, ‘Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace’ (v.15).
God’s peace acts like a referee in your heart – telling you what is in and what is out. One of the questions you should ask about any decision is: ‘Do I sense God’s peace about what I am about to do?’
- Change your attitude to Jesus (vv.16–17)
Be constantly guided by ‘the word of Christ’ (v.16). Paul says, ‘Let the word of Christ – the message – have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God!’ (v.16, MSG).
This kind of community will be centred on the worship of God and listening to the word of Christ in the Scriptures. It will be a community of love, ‘sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord’ (v.22).
It will also be one of hard work. Whether you are an employer or an employee, you are serving Christ. Do your job well and with a good attitude in your heart and mind: ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord… It is the Lord Christ you are serving’ (vv.23–24).
Lord, help me today to live a life of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Help me to forgive as you have forgiven me. May your peace rule in my heart.
Change the direction of your heart and mind towards GodJeremiah 14:1-15:21
The book of Jeremiah is a call to repentance that begins with Jeremiah’s own heart: ‘Therefore, this is what the Lord says: “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman…”’ (15:19). Repentance means changing your heart and mind and turning back to God.
Jeremiah was God’s spokesperson. He turned his heart and mind to listening to the word of the Lord. This was in stark contrast to the false prophets of the day: the Lord says about them, ‘These preachers are liars, and they use my name to cover their lies. I never sent them, I never commanded them, and I don’t talk with them. The sermons they’ve been handing out are sheer illusion, tissues of lies, whistlings in the dark’ (14:14, MSG).
On the other hand, Jeremiah’s heart and mind was set on listening to the Lord: ‘This is the word of the Lord to Jeremiah’ (v.1); ‘Then the Lord said to me…’ (15:1). He knew how amazing it was to hear the words of the Lord: ‘When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight’ (v.16). Ultimately, this is the only thing that will satisfy the deepest longings of your heart and mind.
Resolve to continue to read God’s words every day and to meditate on them in your heart and mind. Once you have heard the word of the Lord, pass on the life-changing message unchanged: ‘Let your words change them. Don’t change your words to suit them’ (v.19, MSG).
God be in my head, and in my understanding;
God be in my eyes, and in my looking;
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking;
God be in my heart, and in my thinking;
God be at my end, and at my departing (Sarum Missal).
We had these amazing words read at our wedding. They suggest we can have 'perfect unity' if we 'put on' compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and do lots of forgiving. And cover it all with love. It is worth a go!
Verse of the Day
‘Forgive as the Lord forgave you’ (Colossians 3:13).
C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (Williams Collins, 2013).
Joyce Meyer, The Everyday Life Bible (Faithwords, 2018) p.1002.
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.