This past Sunday, I challenged us to take some time this week to evaluate the habits of our life. This time of examine is to illuminate where your heart is focused. We are all worshipping beings and we worship what we love. The issue is, we might not love what we think we love. There is a Christian practice called “The Examine” which Christians have used in their spiritual lives to open themselves to God for transformation. There are many versions of the Examine but this is the basic practice:
Place yourself in God's presence. Give thanks for God's great love for you.
Pray for God’s grace that you will understand how God is acting in your life.
Think back through your day and recall specific moments and your feelings at the time.
Reflect on what you did, said, or thought in those instances. Were you drawing closer to God, or further away?
Think about your coming day, how will you interact with people as a person who is being transformed into the Image of God? Where will you need God’s help to have peace in times of chaos? Where will you struggle to show grace, peace, and love in your interactions with others? Conclude this prayer asking for God to be present to you in those times that you will be the presence of God to others throughout your day.
I want to offer the spiritual practice of Examine also as a way of examining the habits of our lives to reveal areas where we might not love what we think we love.
This week as we continue our series on loving God with our emotions, I want to continue to grapple with what Paul says in Colossians 3:1-17. Paul gives two lists that are contrasted between the “Old Self” and “New Clothing.”
Think back to when you were a little girl or little boy. Did you ever play dress up with your parent’s clothes? It is cute to see a little girl in her mother’s high heels and oversized hat or a little boy with a suit jacket draped over his shoulders and oversized tie. In Colossians 3:12-14, Paul calls the church to put on God’s clothing. At first the clothes don’t fit. They feel awkward and unnatural to how you typically dress. They may be cute for a moment but when it comes to “real life” we revert back to the clothes that feel more “natural” to us.
We have to grow into these clothes, but it does not happen overnight. Putting on these close takes intentional growth. When you received baptism, you received new clothes to wear. By grace, you were given what is unnatural to the world. This grace gives us the Holy Spirit that brings transformation. To grow into the clothes that don’t seem to fit, you have to make intentional decisions to grow into them. These intentional habits shape us into the people we are called to be.
When we develop habits in our lives to intentionally grow into the clothes we’ve been given, we shape our hearts for God. Pray over the list in Colossians 3:5-8 and ask God to reveal what habits you have in your life that need to be removed. Then pray over the list in 3:12-14 and ask God to reveal what habits you can cultivate to help you grow into the clothes you’ve been given to wear.