I especially love new crayons - sharp, unused, perfect Crayola® crayons. I love them so much that I don’t actually want to use them because the moment I do is the moment they begin their decline. Call it OCD, if you must, but I’m willing to bet that many of you have stocked up during school supply shopping season just as I have. A girl can never have too many boxes of brand new crayons, right? In fact, knowing I have a few extra boxes in the drawer helped to relieve some anxiety when I sat down to color with my niece this Christmas (God bless her 6-year-old, not-so-gentle grip) and when my 14-month-old nephew got a hold of what he must have thought were carrot sticks.
So as the Director of Children’s Ministry (a.k.a. authorized purchaser of brand new crayons), my New Year’s challenge to all of you is to throw out the old crayons! All of them! Who wants to start a new year anyway with all of those broken, dull crayons that are missing their wrappers so that you are not even sure you've grabbed black, midnight blue, or denim?
“But, wait!” you say, “I can melt the old crayons and make a candle with my kids.”
Ummm…right. Okay, go for it. But, your child will never be able to use the crayons for their intended purpose again…ever! And chances are, the basket in which you've been collecting the pieces has fallen over countless times in the craft/linen/toiletries closet, and you still haven’t purchased the wicks or collected all the baby food jars you need for the project…and your child is now 18.
“But, wait!” you try again, “Waste not, want not! We’ll just add them to the basket, and eventually all of them will get used up.” Seriously? When have you ever placed a basket of crayons on the table in front of a child and they've willingly chosen the fat ones with specks of other colors all over them, the ones with the wrappers torn down, or the ones that are so small they have to pick them up with their fingernails? I’m guessing…NEVER. And, let’s be honest, you've never chosen those either. Am I right?
So let me say it again: Don’t save them, and definitely don’t throw new ones in with the old. Throw them away, and start with a NEW box!
In many ways, we view our salvation like a box of new crayons. We have been born again. The old is gone and we have become new. We are new creations. We have the new life of Christ. So beautiful. So perfect.
Unfortunately, however, we also try to mix our new life with our old.
Unfortunately, however, we also try to mix our new life with our old.
So how do we throw out the old? How do we live in this new righteousness that we now possess through the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25)?
Let me share with you what has been working for me since I have embraced my new life. I confess I still have hurts that are easier to hang on to than to forgive, habits that are self-gratifying and addicting, and hang-ups that keep me from experiencing the fullness of the “abundant life” that Christ died to give me (John 10:10). So, I’ve taken one at a time and have experienced true freedom from them in this way:
- I daily saturate myself in the Truth that I have been made new! Some days it takes more effort than others, and I listen to sermons online by preachers that are known for their new covenant teaching. Other times I call my mother, because she never forgets to remind me Who I am in Christ. Sometimes I go back and read portions of books that have changed my attitude toward righteousness, like this quote that I love from the book The Hurt & the Healer by Bart Millard (lead-singer of Mercy Me) and Andrew Farley (Best-selling author and pastor of Ecclesia, a church in Lubbock, TX):
God has done more than credit righteousness to our spiritual bank account. He has actually brought real change to our human spirit, the core of our being. His Spirit has come to live in us, and he has literally and actually made us new and righteous on the inside. We have undergone a change of nature. This is very different from God simply calling us righteous or looking at us “as if” we were righteous. It is a new birth, a regeneration, a DNA swap, a heart surgery, a literal transformation as we have been born of God’s Spirit (John 3: 6; 1 John 5: 4).
Farley, Andrew; Millard, Bart (2013-08-15). Hurt & The Healer, The (Kindle Locations 558-562). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
That means that these hurts, habits, and hang-ups are not me anymore. They are the old life that has been replaced, and I’m coloring with the new.
- I have forgiven those who have hurt me, and have confessed my faults to dear brothers and sisters in Christ who pray for me and who check in on how I’m doing. I know, easier said than done, but there has to be a reason that the Hebrew author said, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16, NKJV).” I have experienced this healing. It works! And in addition, I have been blessed with the added bonus of new and dear friendships.
So, away with the pride that kept me using that dull red…or…ummm, orange red?…or maybe that’s scarlet…crayon!
- Stop sinning. Again, you’re probably thinking, “Not so easy.” And you’re right. The web of deceit has entangled us, and it’s hard to break free. But what did Jesus say to the adulterous woman in John 8?
He didn’t say, “What were you thinking you horrible woman? You are not permitted into the temple again until you’ve confessed in front of the town, met for counseling with our head Pharisee, and gone through a Bible study about sexual immorality (which consequently may entice you to think about it more than you ever have).”
Nope, in verse 11, Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” Basically, He said, “Stop. Here’s a new, whole, spotless, creamy white crayon. Don’t use the old speckled one anymore. ”
I have struggled with some very bad habits (shocking, I know). Let's just call them what they are...sins. Every time I am tempted, I have a choice. Because I now possess the righteousness of God through my belief in His Son, I have the power, the desire, and the ability to say no. I can even stop after initially choosing yes. I can gladly claim victory over these addictive behaviors. Jesus Christ can break the power of cancelled sin and set me free. It doesn’t mean the temptations have disappeared. The Enemy is too hateful to take them away. I am tempted often, but I look the other way, turn to another channel, and cry out to God as I step in the opposite direction. Don’t misunderstand me to say that sin is no longer a part of my daily battle. I still have flesh that gets tired, irritable, hungry, and craves immediate gratification. But I’m dropping my old crayons-one at a time-as I reach for the new ones I’ve been given.
My prayer is that in this new year you will experience and embrace the newness that is “You in Christ.”
So, out with the old! In with the YOU!