NOTE: This lesson was written as part of a retreat and should be done in sequence. For more information about the retreat, click here.
Purpose/ Life in Christ is a daily, conscious process of taking off the characteristics of our old self, and putting on the characteristics of Christ. Through the words of Ephesians 4, you are invited to look at your own life, identifying the things that need to be taken off, and those that need to be put on.
Preparation/ Read the translation of Psalm 131 below. As you read, open your heart as that of a child, preparing yourself to listen to the Word of God.
El Shaddai, I want to avoid arrogance.
I do not want to walk in ways too difficult for me,
Or try to understand things beyond my grasp.
I calm myself now and sit quietly in Your embrace,
Like a weaned child at its mother’s breast,
My soul like a tranquil little one.
With your people, I hope in You, now and forevermore.
From Swallow’s Nest by Marchiene Vroon Rienstra
Wrap your garment around yourself (a scarf, wrap, favorite sweatshirt or jacket) imagining yourself in the embrace of God. Sit silently like this for a few minutes.
Read Ephesians 4:22-32/ Highlight or circle the words and phrases that describe the old self.
- In your journal, divide a page down the center. In one column write these words and phrases under the heading OLD SELF. Look over the list. Add words that you think need to be added. Consider the meaning of each word, and make a note of any of the words you do not understand.
- Prayerfully read through the list, asking God to show you the characteristics that are part of you now. Place yourself in a posture of repentance, and pray the words of Psalm 139:
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
- Listen closely to the guidance of the Spirit. Cross out any words that do not apply to you.
Read Ephesians 4:22-32/ a second time. Highlight in a different color, or underline the words and phrases that describe the new self. In the second column, write these words and phrases under the heading NEW SELF.
- Prayerfully read through the list, asking God to show you the characteristics that are already a part of your new self. Place yourself in a posture of thanksgiving and remember the words of Ephesians 2:10:
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
- Listening to the guidance of the Spirit, circle the words or phrases that indicate characteristics that are not yet an integral part of who you are.
O God, give me a mind that is humble, quiet, peaceable, patient, charitable; and a taste of your Holy Spirit in all my thoughts, words, and deeds.
O Lord, give me a lively faith, a firm hope, a fervent charity, and a love of you.
Take from me all lukewarmness in meditation and dullness in prayer.
Give me fervor and delight in thinking of you, your grace, and your tender compassion toward me.
Give me, good God, the grace to work for the things for which I pray.
Sir Thomas More, 1478-1535
Other passages to study in a similar manner: Galatians 5, Philippians 2