Scripture: Ephesians 4:17-32
Key verse: (22a) You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self
Reflection: What is your goal or resolution for this new year? Maybe you set a long-term goal or resolution for this new decade? Research shows that on average 52% of resolutions are health related (exercise: 30%, eating healthy: 10%, healthier habits: 13%), on average 34% are work related (save: 21%, get out of debt: 12%, learn something new: 1%, get organized: 1%), and 5% are social goals (spend time with family: 2%, help others: 1%, enjoy life: 3%).
Kaitlin Woolley from Cornell University and Ayelet Fishbach from the University of Chicago published this research investigating New Year Resolutions at the end of 2017. This study found that participants believed both enjoyment and importance mattered for how successful they would be sticking to their resolution. Researchers found, contrary to what the participants believed, that only enjoyment predicated long-term persistence. According to US News, 80% of resolutions will fail by the second week of February. We make the mistake in assuming that we will stick to a goal just because it is important to do. What really matters is if we take pleasure from our efforts.
If you have not made a resolution, I encourage you to look at this passage. Paul is instructing the Ephesians to put off the old self and live into the new self-found in Christ. How? Replace falsehood with truthfulness; replace selfishness with sharing; replace unhelpful talk with words of encouragement to build others up; replace bitterness, malice, rage and anger with kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.
I wonder how much joy we may find in making this passage our resolution. I wonder what this year would look like if I replaced the old me with the new me found in Christ. How would life be different if you did the same?
Prayer: God of every year, help me to set my eyes on you. Guide me to be made new, and to put on the new self, created and loved by you. Show me the way of new life in Christ, one rich in truthfulness, encouragement, kindness, and compassion, forgiving others, just as you have forgiven me. Amen.
Author: Ben Brannan
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].