“She’s puttin’ stuff away,” I heard her tell my little girl. “That’s what Christians do. They put stuff away.”
I shook my head a little at her mixed-up theology. If one can even call it that.
All I was doing was taking the Thanksgiving and fall decor downstairs to storage. And the fact that I was doing so a week before Christmas was hardly Christian.
She and her two brothers are still fairly new foster children to our home, and they’ve learned a lot.
They’ve learned about what’s good for families, and what’s not.
They’ve learned about what’s good for kids. Like brushing your teeth and drinking water instead of soda and listening to the adults in charge because you really can trust them to take care of you.
They’ve learned about God and holiness and Jesus and praying and what it means to really love and to really be loved.
They’ve also learned about the Christian faith, and I can tell from the middle child’s comment to my daughter that she has drawn a conclusion: everything that distinguishes our family from hers is because we’re Christians.
I’m glad she can tell a difference, and I’m supremely thankful she attributes that difference to Christ, where it belongs. But “puttin’ stuff away”? Clearly we need to lay some more groundwork in the doctrine department.
Or do we?
After a few minutes of contemplation, it dawned on me that while there are several distinguishing marks of a Christian, this sweet, learning little girl hit one of them square on the head:
So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander (I Peter 2:1).
But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth (Colossians 3:8).
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another…Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice (Ephesians 4:25,31).
Putting away evil doesn’t make me a Christian. But being a Christian makes me put away evil.
I don’t know about you, but I really kind of wish that putting away deceit and anger and envy were as easy as boxing up the most recent holiday decor.
I wish I could close the lid on hypocrisy and bitterness and slander and be sure that they wouldn’t pop out again when I least expect it.
I wish I could banish evil and falsehood and obscene talk down to the basement in the same way I do our dusty wreaths with mangled bows, and Christmas lights with burnt-out bulbs we’ll get around to replacing…someday.
The truth is, we’ll never be completely free of stuff to “put away” on this side of heaven. But God teaches us in these “put away” passages exactly how we can develop a “putting away” lifestyle.
3 Keys to a Life of Holiness
1.)Place your faith
…you through [Christ] are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God (I Peter 1:21).
Did you know that it’s possible to misplace your Christian faith?
People have been doing it since the dawn of Christianity, as we can see in Paul’s plea to the Galatians: “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?…Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (3:1,3)
Like the Galatians, Christians today realize the need to trust in Christ for salvation, but still place our faith in ourselves for Christian living. We rely on our own abilities, our own strength, and our own wisdom instead of the boundless riches of His provision.
That’s a method destined for failure – as our backsliding tendencies and hearts prone to wandering clearly reveal.
To develop a “putting away” lifestyle, we must place our faith in God through Jesus Christ again and again…and again.
Did you live victoriously yesterday? Wonderful! Place your faith in Him again today.
Did you resist temptation two hours ago? Fantastic! Place your faith in Him again right now.
Confess to Him how hopeless you are without Him. How helpless you are apart from Him. Tell Him He’s your only hope.
Because He is.
2.)Set your mind
Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:2).
It’s easy to fall for the lie that we can’t help what we think. But Scripture teaches that by God’s grace, we can. And we must!
I’m learning that setting my mind on things above really comes down to the cumulation of lots of small choices that don’t seem very important at the time, but the sum of which can either enhance or destroy my “putting away” efforts.
What small area do you find yourself compromising in? Perhaps an entertainment choice? A relationship? A bad habit? Maybe several small and seemingly insignificant things?
Never underestimate the impact of life’s small choices.
3.)Live your identity
…put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24).
When our faith is placed correctly and we’re setting our minds properly, we’re prepared to live out our identity in Christ.
It’s an identity that recognizes that being a Christian isn’t just about avoiding sin’s consequences in eternity. It’s equally about abolishing its power right now.
It’s an identity that grabs hold of every spiritual blessing we’ve been granted in Christ (Ephesians 1), and one that clings to every promise of God, through which we can stop settling for normal and start expecting supernatural (2 Peter 1).
An identity that rests solely in Christ’s finished work on the cross on my behalf, instead of my abilities or inabilities. My past successes or failures. My strength, my willpower, or my discipline.
Yes, being a Christian means “puttin’ stuff away.”
I’m spending some time today asking our Savior what He wants to help me “put away” today. Join me?
Dig a little deeper
Spend some time in 1 Peter 1-2, Colossians 3, and Ephesians 4. What other gems can you unearth regarding this matter of “putting away”?