Put off your old self

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Ephesians 4:22-24

I get really irritated by television adverts at this time of year.  Companies are always trying to flog us the latest tat, proclaiming that the latest celebrity autobiography, computer games or gadgets would make excellent gifts for our family and friends.  Looking at the adverts, I guess that some people must spend a fortune on Christmas presents.  I don’t – but then I have the reputation for being tight!

Christmas is a perfect opportunity for us to think about how much we are affected by this blatant western capitalism.  Not only is it a time when we are subjected to the “Buy! Buy! Buy!” culture we live in more than at any time, but it is also the time when we should be thinking about the birth of Jesus, the Son of God.  Rather than getting bogged down in the commercialism of Christmas, perhaps we should be thinking about preparing ourselves for the arrival of the coming of Christ.

In our current Isaiah passage, the prophet tells God’s people to “put on your strength” and to “put on your beautiful garments.”  The time is coming when the Lord will come, and they must be ready and waiting for him.  They must shake themselves out of the dust where they’ve been hiding, and show themselves as God himself professes them to be.

Paul picks up this theme in today’s Daily Reading.  He tells the Ephesians that they were told to put off their old lives, which had been corrupted by deceitful desires, and to be made new in the attitude of their minds, and to be like God himself.

As we prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth, it is a good time for us to ponder on whether we are striving to be like God “in true righteousness and holiness.”  It seems ironic that the moment we celebrate the coming of the messiah, we actually get carried away with earthly desires.  We fill our heads with the stuff that we want for Christmas rather than all the good gifts that Christ has lavished upon us.  We get bogged down in our desire for Wiis or DSs, for plasma TVs and new computers, for coffee makers or DVD boxsets.  Does this really display the new attitude of mind that Paul urges us to adopt?  There’s nothing wrong with receiving nice gifts, but when it becomes the focus of our Christmas celebrations, we demonstrate to ourselves and God that we really have not put off our former way of life.

So as Christmas approaches and your family and friends ask you what you would like, why not think about ways in which the money they are willing to spend on you could be spent in a more positive way.  There are lots of charities that sell “good gifts” these days – textbooks for African schools, goats for third world farmers, or water pumps for villages without access to clean water.  Why not ask for one of these?  Or even simply ask for money to be donated to a charity on your behalf?

I get really irritated by television adverts at this time of year.  Companies are always trying to flog us the latest tat, proclaiming that the latest celebrity autobiography, computer games or gadgets would make excellent gifts for our family and friends.  Looking at the adverts, I guess that some people must spend a fortune on Christmas presents.  I don’t – but then I have the reputation for being tight!

Christmas is a perfect opportunity for us to think about how much we are affected by this blatant western capitalism.  Not only is it a time when we are subjected to the “Buy! Buy! Buy!” culture we live in more than at any time, but it is also the time when we should be thinking about the birth of Jesus, the Son of God.  Rather than getting bogged down in the commercialism of Christmas, perhaps we should be thinking about preparing ourselves for the arrival of the coming of Christ.

In our current Isaiah passage, the prophet tells God’s people to “put on your strength” and to “put on your beautiful garments.”  The time is coming when the Lord will come, and they must be ready and waiting for him.  They must shake themselves out of the dust where they’ve been hiding, and show themselves as God himself professes them to be.

Paul picks up this theme in today’s Daily Reading.  He tells the Ephesians that they were told to put off their old lives, which had been corrupted by deceitful desires, and to be made new in the attitude of their minds, and to be like God himself.

As we prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth, it is a good time for us to ponder on whether we are striving to be like God “in true righteousness and holiness.”  It seems ironic that the moment we celebrate the coming of the messiah, we actually get carried away with earthly desires.  We fill our heads with the stuff that we want for Christmas rather than all the good gifts that Christ has lavished upon us.  We get bogged down in our desire for Wiis or DSs, for plasma TVs and new computers, for coffee makers or DVD boxsets.  Does this really display the new attitude of mind that Paul urges us to adopt?  There’s nothing wrong with receiving nice gifts, but when it becomes the focus of our Christmas celebrations, we demonstrate to ourselves and God that we really have not put off our former way of life.

So as Christmas approaches and your family and friends ask you what you would like, why not think about ways in which the money they are willing to spend on you could be spent in a more positive way.  There are lots of charities that sell “good gifts” these days – textbooks for African schools, goats for third world farmers, or water pumps for villages without access to clean water.  Why not ask for one of these?  Or even simply ask for money to be donated to a charity on your behalf?

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