Summary: When we become believers, our minds are renewed and furnished with the light of God’s mind, and we can see things as God sees them and make godly decisions.
In 1948, Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play Major League baseball. He faced stiff opposition in the form of balls being deliberately thrown at him by pitchers, base runners who dug their spikes into his shins, fans who mocked him and even death threats. Jackie Robinson was a competitive scrapper, but he also knew that the right way to fight was to demonstrate meekness and forbearance. In other words, his behaviour was Christ-like. His strength changed the face of baseball and in the process helped change the face of America.
The ancient Greek city of Ephesus was a corrupt city. The apostle Paul urged the Ephesians to change. Christianity was not compatible with the Ephesians’ current lifestyle. Believers have to forget about their old ways of doing things, but they can’t do it alone. God can and does change the lives of believers. We can help the process by following the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study, service, ministry and missions.
As Christians, our uniqueness in the world has to be made apparent by our mood, morality, money, mouth and manners. We need to control our anger, encourage and exhort others, and impart grace. We are warned against corruption in both words and deeds.
Believers have been sanctified or made holy, but that does not mean that personal morality can be ignored. On the contrary, because we have been justified or made right with God, we have been made new creatures who have to move out of the control or power of the world. This means that our personal morality must also be pure and holy because we have been saved by Christ from the sins of the world. Christ frees us to be a new creation.
As a new creature, we have the power of words. Words can harm and help. People who are hurting, who are without hope or who need encouragement can be help by encouraging words. They can also be hurt by words spoken in anger. Using the acronym T.H.I.N.K. will help us to control what we say and how we say it. Before we speak, we need to ask ourselves if the words we will speak are:
We must ask ourselves how we think others will rate us on the amount of praise and encouragement we give them. Are we a force for encouragement in their lives or are we discouraging as we interact with them? What if we only said things that could build other people up or encourage them even when we have to talk about difficult things?
Being careful with our words does not mean that we as Christians are not to get angry at all. There are times and situations where anger is justified or called for such as crime, injustice and hunger. How we express our anger and how our anger affects others determine Christian action and attitude.
One example of righteous anger involves people who refuse to work to earn a living. Honest labour can be good, but it can also be sinful. If we work to get more and more goods for ourselves, then honest labour is sinful. In fact, Jesus warned us against labouring for plenty or hoarding what we harvest or earn. If we labour to provide for those who are poor, then our labour is for good, because we are labouring for what really matters, and that is human tenderness, family love and togetherness. People we work for have a duty to pay us a fair and decent wage. Failure to do so is the same as stealing.
We have to make a conscious, minute-by-minute choice to depend on the Holy Spirit to change us if we want to be like Christ. Our good works and service will not save us. God saved us so that we can be like him and do the works that he would do. These works have to be motivated by service. In other words, we are to serve others and not call attention to ourselves.
The most important quality we need to be Christ-like is the ability to forgive others. We are to be merciful just as Christ is merciful. We have to forgive others as we have been forgiven. Forgiving is not the same as forgetting. If we refuse to forgive others, we are hooked to them and the past, and that means that the pain continues for us.
The Holy Spirit is grieved when we do not act in a Christ-like manner. Our bad conduct tarnishes his name. We become ignorant to God’s truth. We become morally insensitive. We have to lay aside this evil nature when we become believers. When we become believers, our minds are renewed and furnished with the light of God’s mind, and we can see things as God sees them and make godly decisions.